By Jackie Graves
Unlike the typical shrimp cocktail you'd find in the west, Mexican shrimp cocktail isn't a dip - it's a chilled mix of seafood and tomato broth with fresh seasonal vegetables, most enjoyed with saltines, chips, or tostada shells. Photo by - Jackie Graves
When the summer months get a little extra spicy, the last thing I generally want to do is stand over a hot stove for more than about point-two seconds. However, I finally found a way I can avoid having to do much cooking at all with this refreshing dish made with shrimp, chopped vegetables, and a savoury, cool tomato broth.
Then I completely contradicted my own laziness and made TWO versions of it: Mexican shrimp cocktail, or coctel de camarones.
I quickly have to say that people almost always have their own spin on this dish and this is just how I generally make it. The first one will be a combination of shrimp, baby scallops, vegetables, and a clam-tomato base, while the second will feature the same seafood, but this time with mango, sweet peppers, red onion, Thai chili and sweet corn.
NOTE: I reserved some of the ingredients to make the second cocktail, including ¼ cup of the shrimp and a ½ cup of the scallop and clam mixture, see recipe below. The mango version is also a much smaller batch, so I recommend doubling it if you want it as a main course, just mind the chilis - they're no joke.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Classic Tomato Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
1 lb of peeled, cooked shrimp, de-tailed and chopped
1 cup of baby scallops
1 avocado, chopped
½ of a large red onion, diced
½ of a cucumber, diced
1 fresh tomato, diced
2 fresh jalapenos, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced fine
1 lime for juicing
1 Tbsp of tomato paste (make sure it’s unseasoned)
2 Tbsp of Mexican hot sauce (I use Valentina’s)
3 cups of tomato juice
1 bottle of clam juice
The majority of what you'll need - the most time consuming part is chopping, but it's better than standing over a hot stove. Photo by: Jackie Graves
Here’s how to prepare it:
The only cooking process we’ll require is warming the baby scallops in the clam juice. You don’t want to cook the scallops fully since the acidity in the mixture will actually finish the process for us.
In a large saucepan, add the clam juice and turn the heat to medium-high. When you start to see light steam rising from the liquid, add baby scallops (make sure to rinse them) and stir gently until you see them go from slightly translucent to opaque, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and reserve ½ of the mixture and set it aside to cool.
Next, remove the tails from the shrimp and cut them into 3 pieces, remember to reserve about ¼ cup of them for later.
Leave 4 shrimps whole with tails if you want to garnish your cocktails, but it’s not mandatory.
With a new, clean cutting board, this is the part where we chop up all of the vegetables (avocado is technically a fruit, FYI). Chop tomato into about one-inch chunks, along with the avocado, dice ½ of the red onion and cucumber, finely dice your 2 cloves of garlic, and then comes the pesky jalapenos.
PLEASE WEAR GLOVES FOR THIS PART. The capsaicin in jalapenos can cause a burning sensation on your skin that PERSISTS. So when dicing them up, keep yourself protected.
Now it’s time to finish the mixture.
Pour your now cooled clam and scallop broth into a large bowl before adding 1 Tbsp of tomato paste, then stir. Add all of your chopped ingredients, the juice one lime and 2 Tbsp of hot sauce before covering and putting in the fridge to set for about two hours.
Once your mixture has had time to marinade, you’ll notice it might look thicker or “drier” than it did before. This is where we add our 3 cups of tomato juice – I make sure to chill mine in the fridge beforehand. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.
After that, choose your preferred serving vessel (I used a daquiri glass) and serve with tortilla chips.
This can keep in your fridge for about a day or two, but I personally put mine in freezer bags to save for a rainy day if we don’t finish it all.
This recipe easily serves 4-6 people.
The cocktail right before adding the tomato juice and after marinading for two hours. Optional: you can also leave it overnight for stronger flavour. Photo by: Jackie Graves
Now that you know what you’re doing, this second part should be a breeze.
Mango Chili Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
¼ cup reserved shrimp
½ cup reserved clam-scallop broth
1 Altaulfo mango, cut into one-inch chunks
¼ of a large red onion, diced
2 red and orange baby sweet peppers (or, about ¼ cup of a normal sweet pepper)
2 Thai chilis, sliced into rings
½ cup frozen peaches and cream corn
1 can of pure mango nectar
In a small bowl, add your chopped shrimp and scallop-clam broth together.
On a clean cutting board, cut your mango into one-inch chunks – I’ll included a link how to do this safely and effectively here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB8HRgAFg3k
I chose Altaulfo mango for this recipe because they're less fibrous than other mangos.
Next, with your remaining red onion, cut a ¼ chunk of off and dice finely. This is meant to be a sweeter dish, so you don’t want to overpower it with the taste of raw onion.
Luckily, Thai chilis, despite being VERY powerful, are less likely to cause you issues with your skin. So, simply slice them into thin rings – do not leave them in chunks because they are very spicy and no fun to chew on.
Dice up your sweet baby peppers – I chose to use red and orange just for the colour.
Add all of your chopped ingredients along with 1 cup of frozen (or canned) peaches and cream corn into your shrimp and scallop broth mixture. To finish it off, pour the whole can of mango nectar over your ingredients and squeeze ½ into the mix. Cover and set aside in the fridge for 2 hours.
Serve with tortilla chips. If you want to get funky, you can also try serving it with cinnamon sugar pita chips. This recipe serves about 3-4 people.
The natural sweetness of the shrimp and scallops is perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the mango, corn and peppers. Photo by: Jackie Graves
There you have it. TWO WAYS you can enjoy a cold, delicious Mexican dish that requires next to no cooking.
Both of these were a huge hit in my house – although ironically, the mango mixture was much preferred and I definitely wish I made it in a bigger batch, so feel free to double the recipe if you wish.
Stay tuned for more Monday recipes in the future.