Surprising Shrimp on the Boardwalk
On my first wedding anniversary, my wife was in graduate school and working as a hall director at a university. She had very little time to think, let alone plan anything to celebrate the occasion. Being the good husband, I decided to plan a night away, and since we lived in the residence hall, her only way to really get away from her job was to get away from home. I planned a number of activities, a nice dinner and a night away. When we left for the night, I decided to keep it all a secret and revealed each part as it came time for it. We had a great time and a tradition was started.
The following year, she planned everything and also kept it a secret. Since then, with the exception of our 10th and 20th (this year), we have alternated the planning and surprising. While some years it has been difficult to get away, we have kept this tradition going.
This past year, my wife surprised me with a trip to Atlantic City. The weather was unseasonably warm for the end of October and we spent the days walking the Boardwalk and checking out the casinos. We stopped at Harry’s Oyster Bar and sat out on the patio enjoying a nice evening cocktail. Perusing the menu, we found a Shrimp Cocktail Ceviche. I knew what a ceviche was (something, often fish, cooked not from heat, but from acidity in a liquid such as lime juice), but had never had it myself.
I don’t know if it was the environment, the alcohol or the company, but it was the best shrimp cocktail I had ever had. Once I got home, I petitioned Harry’s for the recipe, but to no avail. This recipe comes close. While the shrimp in this recipe do receive heat, some of the cooking comes from the limes.
A spicy mix of flavors.
As I only had the one lime, I had to settle on bottled juice.
The shrimp in the hot pot.
Ceviche de Camaron: Shrimp Ceviche “Cocktail”
Servings: 3 cups, serving 6 as an appetizer |
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 generous pound unpeeled smallish shrimp (I prefer the ones that are 41/50 count to a pound)
- 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce (such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo, the latter being on the sweet side)
- About 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
- 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jícama (or 1/2 cup of each)
- 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
- Several lime slices for garnish
- Tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade or saltine crackers for serving
1. Cooking and Marinating the Shrimp. Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein the shrimp if you wish: One by one lay the shrimp on your work surface, make a shallow incision down the back and scrape out the (usually) dark intestinal tract. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
2. The flavorings. In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.
3. Serving the ceviche. Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.
Working Ahead: The ceviche is best made the day it is served. The flavorings can be added to the shrimp a few hours in advance.