Mexican shrimp cocktail, made from poached shrimp tossed in a flavorful sauce of ketchup, onion, cilantro, and citrus juice, is a wonderful cold summer dish. But it's often too sweet, thanks in large part to all that ketchup. This version strikes a slightly less saccharine note by replacing some of the ketchup with tomato puree, and it's spot-on perfect now.
Why It Works
- Using a blend of ketchup and tomato puree preserves the dish's classic flavor, while cutting some of the sweetness for a more balanced result.
- Starting the shrimp in cold water and then heating it to not more than 170°F produces the plumpest, juiciest shrimp.
- A quick dry brine of salt and baking soda makes the shrimp even plumper and more tender.
- Yield:Serves 4 to 6 as a snack or appetizer
- Active time: 30 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 1 3/4 pounds shrimp, shelled and deveined (see note)
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons fresh juice from about 8 limes, divided
- 1 cup diced white onion (about 1/2 large onion)
- 3/4 cup tomato puree
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 2 tablespoons fresh juice from 1 orange
- 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- Saltines, for serving
- Diced avocado, for garnish
- Mexican-style hot sauce, such as Tapatío, for serving
In a large bowl, toss shrimp with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and the baking soda until evenly coated. Transfer to the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together 4 tablespoons lime juice with onion, tomato puree, ketchup, cilantro, orange juice, and jalapeño.
In a medium pot, combine 2 quarts cold water with remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 tablespoons salt. Add shrimp, set over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 170°F on an instant-read thermometer and shrimp are just cooked through; adjust heat to make sure temperature does not go over 170°F.
Drain shrimp carefully, rinse under cold running water, then drain well. Cut shrimp into 1/2-inch pieces. Add shrimp to bowl with sauce and toss to combine. Top with avocado and serve immediately with saltines and hot sauce.