Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail – Coctel de Camarón Estilo Mexicano
Ingredients for Poaching the Shrimp:
- 48 fresh large (U25) shrimp, shell on.
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 stick celery, with leaves if possible
- 1 carrot, washed but not peeled
- 1 medium white onion, peeled
- 1 Roma tomato
- 1 chile serrano, split from tip almost to stem
- A few stems of cilantro
Ingredients for composing the coctel:
- Caldo (broth) reserved from cooking shrimp
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 ½ cups tomato catsup (not a typo)
- 1 Tbsp minced white onion per serving
- 1 Tbsp minced Roma tomato per serving
- 1 Tbsp minced cucumber per serving
- ½ tsp minced chile serrano
- Roughly chopped cilantro to taste
- Ripe avocado
- Mexican limes, halved and seeded
- Salsa de mesa (table salsa) such as Cholula, Valentina.
In simmering water, poach the shrimp, along with the garlic, celery, carrot, onion, tomato, chile serrano, and cilantro until the shrimp are just done, firm and pink but still tender. Discard the vegetables from the poaching. Reserve and chill the caldo de camarón (poaching liquid) for later use. Be careful: a friend of mine poached his shrimp and drained it, inadvertently pouring all the liquid down the drain! Be sure to use a container under your strainer.
Shell the shrimp and chill.
At serving time, mix the catsup, the reserved, chilled caldo de camarón (shrimp broth), and sea salt to taste. Add a squeeze of fresh Mexican lime juice.
In each ice cream soda glass or other large glass, put the indicated quantities of minced onion, tomato, cucumber, chile serrano, and chopped cilantro. Add 12 shrimp to each glass. Pour the catsup/caldo de camarón mixture to cover all ingredients.
Serve with diced avocado. At the table, offer Mexican lime halves for those who prefer a limier flavor, a small dish of sea salt, a dish of minced chile serrano and another of chopped cilantro for those who prefer more, and a salsa de mesa or two for those who like more picante (HEAT!).
A coctel de camarón (shrimp cocktail) is traditionally served with saltine crackers and/or tostadas, those crunchy fried or dehydrated salty tortillas. Tostadas are usually rubbed with the cut side of a squeezed lime for added flavor.
Shrimp Sautéed with Garlic and Chile Guajillo (Camarones al Ajillo)
Ingredients for the chiles guajillos:
- 3-4 chiles guajillos, stemmed, seeded, and deveined
- ½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil
Ingredients for the shrimp stock:
- ¼ medium white onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- Juice of 1 lime or lemon
- A few black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 chile de árbol
- Pinch of salt
Ingredients for the shrimp:
- 2 tablespoons chile guajillo oil or olive oil
- 1½ pounds head-on shrimp, shelled, deveined, and deheaded, or 1 pound headless shrimp
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon vanilla olive oil
Procedure for the chiles guajillos:
Wash the chiles well and cut them crosswise into very thin strips to make rings. Place them in a glass jar with the oil. You can do this the day before if you like.
Procedure for the shrimp stock:
In a heavy 4-quart stockpot, put the shrimp heads and shells in 2 quarts of water with the onion, garlic, lime juice, peppercorns, bay leaves, chile de árbol and salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Strain the stock and reserve. If the stock is very watery, reduce some more and reserve.
Procedure for the shrimp:
You can cook these in 2 batches, reserving the cooked shrimp in a bowl, until the other batch is done, and then return them for one minute in the sauce to reheat and serve.
Heat a medium frying pan with the chile guajillo oil. Add 1/2 of the shrimp, 1/2 of the garlic, and 1/2 of the parsley, and sauté 1 to 2 minutes. When one side of the shrimp is pink, turn them over, and add half of the chile strips. Reserve the oil in the jar to soak more guajillos. Continue to cook over medium heat until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
When the shrimp are cooked, remove them and set aside. Repeat with the other half of the shrimp and remove. Add 8 ounces of strained shrimp stock. Reduce sauce to half, uncovered, and then add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the softened butter bit by bit, shaking the pan to “mound” the sauce. Taste and add salt or lime juice for flavor. Return the shrimp to the sauté pan, over low heat, to reheat and coat them with the sauce. Swirl in the vanilla olive oil.
Serve as a main course around hot cooked rice on a plate, or serve with hot tostadas or bollilos (rolls of bread) as an appetizer.
Shrimp and Nopal Tacos: Tacos de Camarón y Nopalitos
The chunky salsa recipe that goes with these tacos makes more than necessary for the tacos, and is a delicious dip for totopos (fried tortilla triangles).
Ingredients for the salsa:
- 12 husked tomatillos
- ½ white onion, cut into in 2-3 chunks
- 6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 2-3 serrano chiles, stems removed (also remove seeds for less “heat” if desired)
- 2 firm-ripe avocados, peeled and diced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- fresh lime juice to taste
- salt to taste
Ingredients for the tacos:
- ½ pound small to medium shrimp, peeled
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 cups cooked nopalitos (nopales cut into small squares or strips)
- salt to taste
- 8 corn tortillas, about 6-7 inches in diameter
For the salsa: Roast the tomatillos, onion, garlic and serranos on a comal or griddle until charred all over, turning to char evenly. Peel the garlic. Puree until broken down, but still chunky.
Add the avocados and cilantro and puree until just incorporated. The salsa should remain somewhat chunky. Taste and add lime juice and salt.
Mix the shrimp with the adobo sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink. Stir in the nopalitos and heat through. Add salt to taste.
Heat the tortillas until pliable and fill with the shrimp and nopales. Spread some of the salsa over the filling and serve immediately. Makes 4 servings of 2 tacos each.