There’s a restaurant in San Diego up in Hillcrest called Ortega’s Bistro (www.ortegasbistro.com) that makes a Puerto Nuevo Style Shrimp Cocktail that is truly drool-worthy. I’ve come pretty damn close to recreating it, though I leave out the diced mango and don’t add as much jalapeno. This cocktail sauce is a little on the sweet side, but there’s just enough Tabasco and finely minced jalapeno to give it a nice kick, without making it hot overall. Above all, even though it will come out looking very Zsa Zsa, it’s pretty easy to make. The bulk of the work is chopping, dicing and mincing a few things, but it’s hardly work unless you’re a buzzkill. The other good news is, this holds up perfectly for a good 5 days before the cucumber and avocado start to get a little soggy. The low acidity also helps keep the avocado and cucumber bright green (unless you overdo it with Balsamic, which I don’t recommend, as it turns everything into mush and darkens greens.)
So here it is:
1/2 cup of finely chopped red onion (cut this up first and soak in balsamic vinegar while you chop the rest, then drain, reserve balsamic for later, you may want to add a tablesoon or less at the end. I wouldn’t add too much more.)
1 lb. cooked shrimp, size is your business, cooked, peeled, and deveined
1 1/2 cups of Clamato
1/4 cup of ketchup (you may want to add a tablespoon or 2 at the end)
1 very healthy tablespoon of crushed or very finely minced garlic
1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped, but not minced, somewhere in between, you wanna look like you got spinach on your teeth?
1/4 cup of fresh lime juice OR zest of 1 lime and less lime juice, add slowly to taste if using zest first
1 teaspoon of Tabasco, you really don’t need anymore, let the jalapeno do the talking.
1 jalapeno, seeded, deveined, and VERY finely minced so it looks like little green glass beads
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced (ADD THIS LAST IF YOU’RE LETTING THIS CHILL OVERNIGHT)
So that’s it. These are just guidelines, you get to do whatever you want. Some people add horseradish, I felt the jalapeno was enough. I like the idea of 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper diced, partly for the bright color contrast, but it’s also the sweetest of the bell peppers while still having a little zing.
I didn’t even add much more than a shake or two of sea salt and cracked pepper. This is one of those deals that’s really sensational as is, on top of looking pretty, as well. It should be chilled, ideally, for 2-3 hours, giving your sauce a chance to blend and thicken up a bit. But if you really want to ace it, wait til lunch the next day, dicing up the avocado an hour or two before serving. I served it with some fresh French bread with a compound whipped butter I made with lime zest, garlic and cilantro. There were no leftovers. :)