Sometimes less is more, especially in the case of simple Mexican shrimp cocktail. The light and refreshing summer appetizer consists of poached shrimp marinated in a lime and spicy tomato juice base along with tomatoes, onions, celery, cilantro and creamy cubes of avocado that create fresh flavors similar to ceviche.
I would call this appetizer a cross between a shrimp cocktail and ceviche. Instead of a horseradish and ketchup based dipping sauce, the shrimp are served in a lime and spicy tomato juice base mixed with fresh tomatoes, green onions and cilantro similar to pico de gallo. Creamy chucks of fresh avocado are mixed in right before serving. Much lighter and fresher tasting than a traditional shrimp cocktail, the fresh flavors of the ingredients enhance the taste of the shrimp.
A shrimp cocktail or coctel de camarones, as it is called in Spanish speaking countries, is very common in restaurants in the coastal regions of Central and South America. There are many varieties but they are all fresh, savory, crunchy and a little spicy. Simply made, this appetizer is perfect to enjoy at home as it is prepared with easy to find ingredients. Cold and refreshing, my Mexican shrimp cocktail is a perfect dish to enjoy on a hot summer day either as a starter or a light meal.
Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Serves 2 generously, adjust the recipe according.
- 6 extra large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed plus 2 shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails left on to use as garnish
- 1 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning or other seafood seasoning spice
- 1/4 c. Clamato juice, V8 juice or tomato juice (I used Clamato)
- juice from 1/2 lime, more to taste if the lime you use is small
- 1 tsp., more or less depending on spiciness, green Tabasco sauce or hot sauce of your choice
- 12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 2 whole scallions (green onions), sliced
- a handful of cilantro, stems removed and minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
Add the Old Bay Seasoning to a pot of water, stir and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until just opaque and pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water until cool then drain and pat dry. Cut the tailless shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces and leave the 2 with tails whole.
Place the shrimp and all the remaining ingredients, except the avocado, into a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 1 or 2 hours for the flavors to meld then taste once more. Just before serving, add the avocado and stir gently until combined. Spoon into a serving bowl, individual bowls or martini or margarita glasses, garnish with the whole shrimp and serve immediately.
For a quicker preparation, already cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp can be substituted for the raw shrimp. If so, skip the cooking process and continue with the recipe.
Be careful to not overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery.
For this recipe you can use tomato juice, V8, Clamato or other seasoned tomato juice of your choice.
If your lime is hard, press firmly on the lime and roll it on the counter before you slice it. It will be easier to squeeze and you will get more juice out of it.
Wait to peel and cube the avocado until you are about ready to serve so that it retains its green color.
You will find many variations for Mexican shrimp cocktail that add garlic, diced hot pepper, cucumbers, ketchup, etc. but I believe simpler is better so as not to over power the flavor of the shrimp.
This recipe has a lot of delicious liquid that will remind you of gazpacho, I suggest savoring it with a spoon…it is delicious.
A Mexican shrimp cocktail is traditionally served with saltine crackers but I like to use crispy tortilla chips.
If you are making the shrimp cocktail for dinner guests, you could rim the glass with a mixture of salt and chili power then add a lime wedge for a more festive look.
Notes From The Kitchen
I loved this delicious and flavorful Mexican shrimp cocktail and I think you will as well. It takes no more than 15 minutes to prepare and then it rests in the refrigerator for its flavors to meld. I keep the ingredients to a minimum but you can certainly add more vegetables and seasonings to make it your own.