This is one of those "it turned out so good I have to get the recipe down" things. The other night, Homero came home with a pound of fresh in the shell pretty-big shrimp (I hate saying "jumbo shrimp," and they weren't prawns). He wanted a coctel de camarones - a mexican shrimp cocktail.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
There is actually a whole genre of Mexican seafood dishes that might be easily confused, being basically all predicated on that sprightly mix of chopped veggies we call pico de gallo, so a little explanation is called for. A coctel is not ceviche. Ceviche is raw seafood marinated in lime juice and mixed with pico de gallo. Ceviche is, in my opinion, best enjoyed on the beach in Mazatlan with a very cold beer and lots of saltines. It's not Vuelve a la Vida ("come back to life"), which is a mixed seafood dish usually consisting of octopus and oysters as well as shrimp and mixed with pico de gallo ingediants (among other things). Vuelve a la vida is a respected hangover cure. Coctel de Camarones is that fabulously expensive dish you get in most Mexican restaurants served in a gigantic margarita glass and consisting of dozens (should be dozens) of plump pink shrimp floating in a tomatoey red spicy sauce along with - yes - pico de gallo ingrediants.
So, let's start with Aimee's Pico de Gallo:
2 fresh ripe red tomatoes
one small yellow onion
2 serrano peppers
handful fresh cilantro
juice of two limes
Chop everything and mix. The seeds of the serranos may be left in or removed as you wish, but don't use a milder pepper unless you really are a hopeless gringo. Preserve the proportions - more or less, it's just salsa - and you can multiply infinitely. Pico de gallo gets better as it sits, within reason of course.
Okay, this is your basic pico de gallo. Good with chips, but also as the basic building block of lots of great dishes. For coctel de camarones, you want to add to the basic mix 1 large perfectly ripe avocado, diced. It's better to leave it out than to use an overripe avocado. Slightly underripe is okay.
Put all this in a large serving bowl.
Boil your shrimp very briefly. I wash them, add them to cold water, bring the water to a boil and then drain them. They should just turn pink. Shell them and add to the pico de gallo mix. Now here's the part that makes it coctel de camarones. Open one can of diced tomatoes. Put it in a small sauce pan. Add about two tablespoons of ketchup (it won't be right without the ketchup. You canm't leave it out) and a tablespoon of the vinegar from a can of pickled jalapenos (but not any of the jalapenos themselves). Bring to a high simmer. Blend carefully in the blender and pour, while still hot, over the shrimp mix.
Break out the tostadas and the tequila. Crank it up. Have fun.