Ummm…I hate moving. I know you’ve been dying to know that. At last count, I have moved 17 times. This next move will be my 18th- and hopefully last- move. I’m ’bout fed up to here with the whole process (I’m gesturing to my throat). Once again, I’m trying to rid myself of excess groceries, so I’m using up what I have in my pantry and freezer. This Coctel de Camarones (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail) is the love child of a few bottles of Clamato I had in the pantry and a bag of jumbo shrimp from the freezer.
Coctel de Camarones is another one of those Mexican restaurant go-tos. It’s unlike the traditional shrimp cocktail in that, instead of a thick paste of cocktail sauce, it’s submerged in a Bloody Mary-like tomato juice concoction. Though Coctel de Camarones is traditionally served with saltine crackers, I prefer to serve mine with freshly-fried tortilla chips.
What to grab
Clamato is the only thing you may, or may not, have in your pantry. This cocktail mixer- usually used in Micheladas or Bloody Caesars- is a blend of tomato and clam juices. It has other spices as well, but those two are what makes Clamato Clamato. There’s a whole line of Clamato flavors available nowadays, so experiment with any you think are interesting.
You’ll also need: limes, jalapeños (which are optional), red onion, garlic, cilantro, avocados, celery, English cucumber, hot sauce (another optional ingredient) and shrimp.
Pick what you want to scoop your Coctel de Camarones up with: tortilla chips or saltine crackers, and you’re ready to begin.
Roasted, not boiled, shrimp
Boiled shrimp are only appetizing when doused in seafood seasoning. Other than that, it merits no place in my life. I prefer to roast my shrimp for all of the shrimp cocktails I make and there’s no exception with this Coctel de Camarones.
Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spread your two pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp on to a lightly-oiled sheet pan. Keep it to a single layer and make sure the shrimp are roasted and not steamed (I feel the same way about steamed shrimp as I do boiled). Once you have the shrimp arranged, sprinkle a teaspoon and a half of Tajín over them. Give them a quick toss to coat them and pop the pan into the oven.
Shrimp roast quickly, so set a timer for 8 minutes.
Prep the Veggies
There’s no particular order in which you need to cut your veggies, but I prefer to cut all of the less messy, cumbersome ones first. Leafy herbs, like cilantro, I cut towards the end, so I don’t have to flick leaves off of my fingers whilst prepping. Jalapeños I cut last because I’ll want to wash my hands right after mincing them. This is just my process of prep work, feel free to do you.
First, dice the celery stalks and the cucumber. Dicing anything means that you’re cutting your ingredient into pieces that are a 1/4″ or a smidge smaller. The cuts are small and consistent. This is usually done for recipes like this, where you’re eating veggies with bold flavors and don’t want them to overpower the individual bites of food.
Next, mince the red onion. Red onion is a very pungent, delicious ingredient. Like most other onions, it can burn if the pieces are too large and the onion isn’t cooked down. Since this is a raw dish, mincing (cutting the onion into 1/8″ or smaller pieces) will tone down that harsh bite.
Finely mince your fresh garlic after you’ve finished your red onion, then add both to your large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the cilantro and add that to your bowl, as well. If you’re using jalapeño, mince them and add them to the bowl. Every veggie we prep will be added to this bowl from here on out. Just FYI.
Cube (cutting between 1/2″-1″) your ripe avocados and use a large spoon to scoop the flesh out into the bowl.
To Prevent Browning:
Juice your limes using a citrus juicer and pour this over the avocados. Don’t bother with stirring. Let that lime juice sit on the avocado pieces to keep them from browning.
Mix the Tomato Sauce
The base of the tomato bath your shrimp will swim in is ketchup. Yes, yes. We’re using ketchup. Don’t have a conniption, it is what it is.
It’s not just an ol’ ketchup tomato sauce, though. We’re going to flavor it with a teaspoon of prepared horseradish. Besides the shrimp and tomato aspect, this is probably the only thing remotely like the North American version of shrimp cocktail.
Add the Clamato tomato cocktail to the bowl as well.
I like Coctel de Camarones to have a smidge of spiciness to it, so I add a Mexican hot sauce, like Valentina to my tomato sauce. You can omit it if you want to stay away from heat, though.
Mix the Coctel de Camarones
A little while ago, your oven’s timer went off and you were all, “Now what am I supposed to do?” Well, I hope you took the pan of shrimp out of the oven, for starters. But, if you didn’t, go run and grab it now! Let the shrimp cool on the counter top for 10 minutes. Just like cooking it, cooling shimp takes no time at all. Once it’s at room temperature, add it to the bowl of veggies. Fold in the shrimp gently- mainly to avoid mashing the avocado chunks.
After you’ve folded in the shrimp, add the tomato sauce. Season the mixture with a teaspoon of salt (more if you are a salt-lover). Be careful with the salt as the sauce will grow saltier as it sits.
Throw the bowl into the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let it chill. If you’re in a rush to eat it, nestle the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice-water. Give a stir every 15 minutes to chill it faster.
Serve the Coctel de Camarones with your Preferred Scooping Vessel
If you want to go straight autentico, ladle your prepared and chilled Coctel de Camarones into a goblet like this one. This is the quintessential serving dish for this starter. You could also serve it in a bowl.
Again, I prefer to serve my Coctel de Camarones with Home Fried Tortilla Chips, but it’s commonly served with saltine crackers. Choose whichever you fancy (or both) and serve them alongside your filled goblet.
Did this whole goblet get devoured after I shot this picture? Yes.
Did I share it with any of my family members? No.
Do I feel any shame in that? Again, no.
And neither will you, my friend. Mainly because they’ll have their own goblets. But, also because it’s survival of the fittest up in here.
If you don’t plan to serve your Coctel de Camarones right away, keep it refrigerated.
But, be sure to enjoy it within a day. The acid from the lime juice and tomatoes will continue to cook the shrimp. The longer they swim around in that tomato pool, the tougher they will become.
One more recipe and a few less pantry/freezer ingredients! I’m certainly on my way to a less stressful move! Be sure to pin and share this Coctel de Camarones recipe with your world!
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Coctel de Camarones (Mexican Shrimp Cocktail)
- 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail off
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Tajín classic seasoning
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 large red onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 medium jalapeño, minced
- 2 medium avocados, diced
- 2 medium limes, juiced
- 1 1/2 cups ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Mexican hot sauce optional
- 2 12 ounce bottles Clamato juice
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- tortilla chips
- saltine crackers
- Preheat your oven to 450°F and lightly oil a sheet pan with vegetable oil.
- Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on the sheet pan and sprinkle Tajín over them. Give the shrimp a quick toss to coat them and roast them for 8 minutes, or until pink and curled.After the cooking time has elapsed, remove them from the oven and allow them to come to room temperature on the counter.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the diced celery, cucumber, the minced red onion, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, avocado, and lime juice. and add that to your bowl, as well.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the ketchup, horseradish, hot sauce (if you're using it), and Clamato juice.
- Gently fold the cool shrimp into the bowl of veggies, then add the tomato sauce. Season the mixture with the salt. Refrigerate the cocktail for 30 minutes before serving, or until ice cold.
- Serve your Coctel de Camarones with Home Fried Tortilla Chips or saltine crackers.
Try these other great Starters: