mexican shrimp cocktail
20 whole shrimp
about 5 per serving, shelled and deveined prior to cooking
1 half lime
cilantro stems
1 tsp peppercorns
1 pinch sugar
1 pinch salt
2 whole tomatoes
1 half white onion
1 whole cucumber
1 whole jalapeños
1 whole avocado
or more to taste
to taste
spicy V8 and/or Clamato
Tapatío hot sauce
tostada shells
could also serve with tortilla chips (exclude for paleo)
Friends in college first introduced me to this simple dish. I fell in love with it after my first spoonful. The recipe is simple - what you see is what you get. This recipe is also versatile and can be served as a refreshing, chilled meal on a warm day or even as a completely satisfying lunch when snowboarding on a cold day. This recipe is relatively portable and adapts well for a small intimate party or a large family gathering.

Cook's Illustrated recently published an article on how to poach shrimp, so I use their technique in this recipe. Everything else has been adapted from instructions from my friend's mom. Quantities are estimated so feel free to adjust to your family's preference.
In a saucepan, combine the shrimp, lime juice, lime halves, cilantro stems, peppercorns, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of salt, and enough cold water to cover 1 to 2 inches.
Warm the pan over medium heat. Stir for about 8 minutes until shrimp is pink and opaque.
Remove the pan from heat and steep covered for about 2 minutes.
Transfer shrimp into an ice bath for at least 3 minutes. Shrimp can chill (literally and figuratively) in the water bath until veggie prep is complete.
Dice the tomatoes, white onion, cucumber, jalapeños, and avocado. Chop the cilantro.
Combine the shrimp and veggies into a shared serving bowl or into individual bowls.
Squeeze in some ketchup, then pour on just enough tomato juice to cover the shrimp and veggies. Gently stir to combine and coat.
Garnish with a squeeze of lime juice and a few shakes of Tapatío. Serve with tostada shells or tortilla chips.
If making Mexican shrimp cocktail for a party, chill some cubes of tomato juice. These cubes will keep the dish cold without diluting the tomato juice.

The Cook's Illustrated article from which I adapted the poaching technique also stated that frozen shrimp is the way to go since it is frozen at the source. We often buy the individually frozen shrimp so that we can just pull out and defrost what we need. The shrimp needs time to thaw, so remember to defrost the shrimp in the fridge overnight.

Sometimes I skip the poaching altogether and I just buy a bag of the cooked shrimp from Costco and thaw it in the fridge the night before.