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Dinner Tonight: Mexican-Style Shrimp Cocktail (Coctel de Camarones)

Though it looks a tad odd at first, Mexican cuisine has its own rendition of the shrimp cocktail. It has many similarities to the American version, except it trades out the horseradish for hot sauce and really amps up the seafood flavor with clam juice.

When in Mexico City, I indulged in this a lot and still think back to a specific stand on the side of the street where the coctel de camarones came straight from a large glass with saltine crackers. I looked at many versions of this recipe before going with this one from Rick Bayless's Fiesta at Rick's, which just perfectly nails this simple dish.

I first had to get over the fear of using lots of ketchup. Though I found a few versions that started with a different kind of tomato sauce, nothing else works quite as well. What's most odd about this recipe is how even one-fourth of a cup of hot sauce doesn't end up tasting all that hot. Sure, it's diluted with clam juice, but I think it's the sweetness of the small shrimp that really do the trick.

Oh, and while tortilla chips will work in a pinch, saltines are absolutely essential here.

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