I can't remember what we ate, but what I do remember is the "coctel de mariscos" (seafood cocktail) that other smarter and mostly Spanish speakers had ordered. It came in what looked like a ice cream glass and it was filled with shrimp and tomatoes and avocado and it looked spectacular.
Ever since I've been trying to approximate what I imagine it must have tasted like. My concoction is a cross between a spicy gazpacho and shrimp cocktail, and it's a perfect cold main dish for hot summer nights.
Hallie's Seafood Cocktail (the version I made last night for dinner is in the photo)
Ingredients to serve 4:
Seafood! About 1 1/2 pounds of it. Always some shrimp, and then whatever else you've got (squid, large scallops, white fish (cod, tilapia, whatever)...)
Miscellaneous aromatics for the water that you poach the seafood in (fresh herbs like parsley, celery tops, a piece of onion, a slice of lemon or lime, scallions, peppercorns, salt)
Tomato (or V8) juice (about 2 cups)
Hot sauce (or a finely chopped jalapeno) to taste
1 chopped up sweet green pepper
1 chopped up ripe avocado
1/2 of a sweet onion, chopped
A good handful of chopped cilantro
A pound of chopped fresh tomatoes
Juice of 2 limes (at least)
Salt and pepper to taste
(Optional: white vinegar to taste)
1. Cook the seafood
Boil about 4" of water in a saucepan with the aromatics for about 5 minutes.
Throw in the raw seafood, cut into chunks, and cook until just done, probably about 4-5 minutes.
Drain and separate out the aromatics (and discard).
Squeeze the juice of 2 limes over the drained seafood and and let it cool.
2. Put the green pepper, avocado, onion, cilantro, and tomatoes in a nonreactive serving bowl. Add the seafood. Add the tomato juice and hot sauce (or jalapeno) to taste and salt and pepper. Mix. Taste. Season. (If it's not sharp and piquante enough for you add more hot sauce and some white vinegar.)
3. Chill and serve.
NOTE: If you're going to be awhile before serving, then don't add the chopped up avocados until just before you're ready to serve.
If anyone out there has had an authentic coctel de mariscos, let me know how far off this gringa has wandered.