More fun than the American classic, the Mexican take on the dish has a whole lot more personality, so says Cook’s Illustrated. Cóctel de camarón offers an incredible mix of flavors and textures: plump, tender poached shrimp; crisp bites of raw onion and cucumber; and cool, creamy avocado are all coated in a tangy, spicy-sweet tomato sauce.
“Eaten ice‑cold with a spoon and saltines, it’s like a festive, shrimp‑packed Bloody Mary or gazpacho.”
V8’s blend of tomato and vegetable juices and lack of added sweeteners give the dish a welcome savory balance. To round out the dish, cut a ripe avocado and half an English cucumber into bite-size chunks. For savory crunch, add finely chopped red onion to the mix. Finally, a smattering of chopped cilantro contributes freshness.
For a fun presentation, I served the cocktail in margarita glasses accompanied by a long handled spoon and a basket of nacho chips. Son David and girlfriend Vikki joined us for dinner that evening and absolutely loved their appetizers. They scarfed it down in no time!
If you don’t have margarita glasses, another serving option would be a martini glass. In the end, no matter what you serve the shrimp cocktails in, your guests will gobble them up!
1 ¼ lbs. large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
¼ tsp. table salt, plus salt for cooking shrimp
1 cup V8 juice, chilled
½ cup ketchup
3 Tbsp. lime juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
2 tsp. hot sauce, plus extra for serving
½ English cucumber, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Saltines (or tortilla chips or thick-cut potato chips)
Bring 3 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let stand off heat until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes, shaking saucepan halfway through.
Fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Transfer shrimp to ice bath and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Once cool, cut each shrimp crosswise into 3 pieces (or more if using larger shrimp).
Combine V8 juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt in medium bowl.
Add cucumber, onion, and shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Stir in avocado and cilantro.
Portion cocktail into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately, passing saltines (or chips), lime wedges, and extra hot sauce separately.
Cambodia is famous for its Kampot pepper—here a generous measure of ground black pepper plus a fresh chili are used to add multilayered spiciness to the savory-sweet dressing. The salad is best with a combination of cilantro, mint and basil—which we used—but it’s still delicious made with only one herb.
This noodle salad is a version of one that Milk Street staff tasted in Cambodia. Vegetables, herbs and chopped peanuts add tons of color and texture to tender rice vermicelli noodles. And if you like, omit the shrimp altogether or substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.
Don’t bypass the step of rinsing the noodles. It prevents them from sticking together and overcooking. It also cools them down quickly for the salad. If your noodles are long, use scissors to cut them down to a manageable size.
The Hubs compared this salad to an inside-out Asian spring vegetable roll. It was absolutely delicious both as a dinner, and for lunches the next day. It would make a welcome option for a hot, humid summer’s eve when the last thing you want to do is cook.
Cambodian-Style Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp, Cucumber and Herbs
You know we love all-things-Spanish, so it went without saying that when we saw this Spanish Shrimp and Chickpea Stew recipe from Milk Street, we were immediately intrigued. It seems at Palacio Carvajal Girón, in the Extremadura region of Spain, Milk Street staff tasted a delicious shellfish and chickpea stew that was rich and redolent with locally produced smoked paprika. Requiring both a ham- and langoustine-infused broth and made with dried chickpeas, the dish was a time- and labor-intensive preparation.
Their much-simplified version captures the essence of the stew in just a fraction of the time. It uses canned chickpeas for convenience, and the broth gets flavor from bottled clam juice and the viscous liquid from the chickpeas. A combination of Spanish smoked paprika and standard sweet paprika gives the stew deep color and earthy complexity without overwhelming the shrimp.
Don’t forget to reserve ½ cup of the liquid before draining the can of chickpeas. The liquid adds both body and flavor to the broth. When peeling the shrimp, don’t remove the tails because they also lend flavor to the broth. But do remove the tails when halving the seared shrimp so that the pieces are easier to eat in the finished stew. In all honesty, you can skip this step if you don’t mind serving the shrimp whole with tails intact.
1 Tbsp. sweet paprika Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 Lb. extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 Tbsp. salted butter
1 Medium leek, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, rinsed and dried
4 Medium garlic cloves, minced
15½ Oz. can chickpeas, ½ cup liquid reserved, drained
8 Oz. bottle clam juice
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to serve
In a medium bowl, stir together both paprikas and ¾ teaspoon pepper; measure 2 tablespoons into a small bowl and set aside. Add the shrimp to the paprika mixture in the medium bowl and toss to coat; set aside.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp in an even layer; reserve the bowl. Cook without stirring until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, return the shrimp to the bowl. In the same pot over medium, melt the butter.
Add the leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and the reserved paprika mixture, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in the chickpeas, the reserved chickpea liquid and the clam juice. Bring to a simmer, then reduce to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.
Meanwhile, remove the tails from the shrimp and cut each in half crosswise. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the shrimp along with accumulated juices.
Cover and let stand until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with parsley and drizzled with additional oil.