Cook the Book: Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

Mexican places that specialize in mariscos, or seafood are one of the things that I miss the most about living on the East Coast. In my few years living in Southern California there were few meals as enjoyable as those that were made up of a cold Pacifico, few dozen oysters served with saltines, wedges of lime, and hot sauce, and a selection of seafood cócteles.

Whether you chose shrimp, oyster, octopus, or a combination the cóctel usually arrives at the table in a glass that I'd previously associated with ice cream sundaes, accompanied by a basket of saltines and a plate of limes. The seafood is marinated in a combination of hot sauce, ketchup, and lime juice with diced onion, cilantro, and chunks of avocado throughout. The flavor combination brings to mind a fresh salsa fresca, the classic shrimp cocktail, and elements of a wonderfully spicy bloody Mary.

This Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless is about as close as you can get to an authentic coctel de camarones without a trip down to Baja. The sweet-spiciness comes courtesy of the combination of ketchup and hot sauce (Mexican, please), and the crumbly, salty saltines are an unlikely but perfect foil for the cocktail. This is one case where smaller shrimp are preferred for optimal scoopage.

And keeping with our theme of easy, sweat-free summer entertaining, this is a dish that requires only the briefest boil for the shrimp. The rest of the dish is basically prepping the ingredients and mixing them together with the shrimp. And if you do choose to serve this cocktail to a crowd make sure to have a bottle of hot sauce and plenty of sliced limes on hand so your guests can doctor it up to taste.

Win Fiesta at Rick's

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Fiesta at Rick's to give away this week.

Cook the Book: Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail

About This Recipe

Yield:4 cups, serving 6 to 8 as a starter


  • 1 pound (71 to 90 pieces per pound) peeled, cooked small shrimp
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Mexican hot sauce (such as Valentina or Tamazula)
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped fresh cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup clam juice, shellfish stock, or water
  • Salt
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and sliced crosswise
  • 2 to 3 dozen crackers (standard issue saltines or artisanal crackers) or 8 to 12 ounces of tortilla chips
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


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    Serve the cocktail in small bowls topped with slices of avocado, accompanied by saltine crackers (for a very authentic touch) or tortilla chips and lime wedges for your guests to squeeze on.


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