Taste of the Week – March 22nd-28th

Copyright 2009 by Docsconz - All Rights Reserved 71 - 2009-03-28 at 11-55-27

Last week, my Taste of the Week was a version of a classic shrimp cocktail as interpreted by my brother, Greg. It was a particularly excellent example of a dish that I grew up with and still love. I received a comment on that post from Cristina Potters, who writes the excellent award-winning blog, Mexico Cooks!. She suggested that I try a recipe for a Mexican shrimp cocktail that she had posted on her blog and which she considers "the best in Mexico." The recipe comes from Rosario Reyes Estrada who employs this recipe (and others) at her small food booth El Ostión Feliz (the Happy Oyster) in  Guadalajara's Tianguis del Sol market.

Copyright 2009 by Docsconz - All Rights Reserved 66 - 2009-03-28 at 11-27-10

Last night was a perfect opportunity to try the recipe as my wife and I were hosts to another couple for dinner. We opened the dinner with a Mexican theme. I made some Meyer Lemon Margaritas with fresh Meyer lemon juice, Cointreau and Gran Centenario Plata Tequila. The glasses were rimmed with red beet salt (obtained from roasting beets on a bed of Kosher salt). My wife made some killer guacamole and I made the cocteles de camarónes  using the recipe Cristina sent me – more or less.

Since I am far from Mexico, I made a few minor adaptations. I used U20 wild Gulf shrimp (previously frozen) rather than the presumably fresh U25's that Sra. Estrada likely uses. Otherwise, I followed the recipe as closely as I could.

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I used enough water to cover the ingredients then brought that to a simmer before adding the shell-on shrimp. Watching the shrimp closely, I scooped them out as they were ready and put them into an ice bath. Once they cooled, I peeled them and put the shells back into the broth to simmer further while reserving the shrimp in the refrigerator. After straining the broth, I blended in the tomato using a hand blender.

Copyright 2009 by Docsconz - All Rights Reserved 80 - 2009-03-28 at 12-27-34 

Since I had a lot of broth I wasn't sure how much I was supposed to add to the ketchup. The recipe was a little sketchy on this. I added a little bit at a time until I could taste some influence of the broth without the sauce becoming too thin. I also added a fair amount of lime juice. At this point, the sauce itself was rather mild. I toyed with the idea of adding some of the Cholula, but I wasn't sure how much of an effect the minced serrano would provide.

In the meantime, I chopped the rest of the ingredients, substituting a delicious locally grown hydroponic hothouse tomato from Shushan, N.Y. for the Roma tomato called for in the recipe, and layered them in the ice cream glasses as directed along with the shrimp and the sauce. It was delicious!

Copyright 2009 by Docsconz - All Rights Reserved 89 - 2009-03-28 at 17-51-34

This is a wonderful recipe, but when I make this again, I would do a few things
slightly differently. Rather than layering the chopped
ingredients in the glasses, I would add them to the sauce along with
the shrimp and mix them so the flavors are more even and I can adjust the overall heat level. I would then
place the shrimp and combined sauce in the glasses and garnish with
additional cilantro and lime wedges.

This is a wonderful shrimp cocktail that, like my brother's, I would gladly eat any time. The flavors and textures are full and balanced. Combining the ingredients of each recipe with the toothsome shrimp allows them to reach synergistic levels. In each case, the context of the meal served to strengthen the appeal of that particular version. Similar, but different both are worthy Tastes of the Week!


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3 Responses to Taste of the Week – March 22nd-28th

  1. nopisto says:

    Where are the heads of those shrimps?

  2. John Sconzo says:

    Alas, this is not Europe where the value of shrimp heads is recognized and understood. Unless the shrimp are very fresh at certain markets or off the boat, it is nearly impossible to buy them here with heads still on. Had I been able to buy these shrimp with their heads still on, the cocteles would have been even better.

  3. nopisto says:

    Now you have a mission for slow food in the States 😉

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