Next time you’re in the mood for a shrimp cocktail appetizer, give this Mexican version a try. Campechana, Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, is an authentic Mexican appetizer chock full of tomatoes, jalapeno, cucumber and more. Take a look:
What is Campechana?
This South of the Border cocktail, with its “usual suspect” lineup of fresh and spicy Mexican ingredients, results in an intoxicating dish.
It’s similar to ceviche, however with campechana, the seafood is cooked with heat, as opposed to brined in an acid (lime juice)
Imagine a brothy tomato based citrus salsa, swimming with plump tender shrimp, creamy avocado, crunchy with celery and cucumber, and some spicy peppers. Let’s throw in some briny olives for an extra kick. That describes this fresh Mexican seafood cocktail, and a recipe you’ll want to serve all Summer long.
The idea for campechana comes from Campeche, a Mexican State on the Yucatan peninsula where fresh seafood cocktails served beach side.
How To Serve and Devour
How to eat this Mexican Shrimp Cocktail?
Simple, just grab a couple of margarita glasses, or some festive Mexican bowls, load them up with this delightful tomato shrimp avocado mixture, grab some corn chips and dig it.
Simply eat it as if you were eating a Mexican dip.
The ingredients are nice and chunky and a sturdy corn chip is a perfect utensil. Not only for flavor, but to act as a spoon.
This was part of our Cinco de Mayo dinner last weekend, which actually took place on Sunday since we were sipping Mint Juleps and BBQ’ing chicken on Saturday for the Kentucky Derby
I subscribe to Tony’s Market “Weekend Recipes”, an email series which features recipe suggestions, just in time for the weekend.
Last week, Tony’s suggested I serve Campechana, or Mexican Shrimp Cocktail. I just knew out of all the thousands of subscribers, he was surely talking to me personally, so it landed on promptly on the menu plan.
Select The Best Shrimp You Can Possibly Find
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. Spend the extra few dollars and purchase quality shrimp Shrimp that tastes like shrimp. It’s the secret to a really good Campechana.
Seek out wild caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. Look for it at stores like Whole Foods, who seek out sustainable seafood products.
I’ve also found gulf shrimp at my local King Soopers. They don’t carry it on a regular basis, but every time I’m in the store I look for it in the frozen fish section.
It will be marked as a product from the United States rather from China, Thailand or India. Products labeled from these countries are usually farm raised.
What I like about this recipe is the method for boiling shrimp for Campechana.
A little different from my usual procedure, it read;
- Once the water is boiling, add shrimp and remove from heat.
- Let the shrimp stand for three minutes in the water.
- Immediately cool by icing them down once that three minute timer sounded. It works like a charm.
And how about a tip for cooking shrimp and knowing when they’re done, after all, they come in about every size imaginable, and therefore recipes always estimate cooking times. Here is your general rule:
- Straight shrimp are undercooked,
- Shrimp that have just curled into a C-shape are perfectly cooked
- Shrimp that have twisted into an O-shape are overcooked, rubbery and sad.
Shrimp Cocktail, Main Course or Appetizer?
This recipe made enough for at least six people, so needless to say, with just the two of us, we had a lot left over.
Surprisingly it was just as good the next day. With just a couple of discolored spots on the chopped avocado, we were enjoying it for dinner the next night.
So depending on how many you’re feeding, this is a wonderful light dinner recipe, or a beautiful shrimp cocktail appetizer to start a Mexican Dinner Menu.
This recipe for Campechana is a beautiful beginning to a seafood dinner, MahiMahi Kabobs with Jalapeno Butter comes to mind.
Recipe for Mexican Shrimp Cocktail, Campechana
Let’s talk about the tomato base for campechana. You can make this Mexican shrimp cocktail with clamato juice, V8 or plain tomato juice. Just choose your favorite.
I hope you give this Campechana recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating and leave a comment about your experience in preparing the recipe.
And if you have a favorite version of shrimp cocktail, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
What to Serve with Campechana
If you’re making this to serve guests as a starter to a Mexican themed dinner, consider these Mexican Main Course options
- Spicy Mexican Chicken Zarape, Drenched in a sweet and spicy Chipotle Cream Sauce and topped with a zesty tomato salsa. This one pan cast iron chicken breast recipe, makes an easy, no fuss, chicken dinner that presents itself a bit on the fancy side.
- Lobster Tacos, Sweet lobster meat dipped in garlic, lime, chile butter joins fresh Colorado sweet corn, roasted poblanos and avocado.
- Crispy Roasted Yucatan Chicken Breast, Golden roasted chicken a in a bright Mexican themed broth.
- Fish Tacos with Cod Cod gets a quick marinade in lime juice, orange juice, some chili powder and the party gets even better because there’s tequila involved.
And if you’re looking for a ton of appetizer recipes, don’t miss my Appetizer Category. You’ll find a ton of finger licking ideas. Including my recipe for Pear and Blue Cheese Crostini, the most popular appetizer recipe on my site.
How to make Campechana:
Campechana, Traditional Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
- 1 pound shrimp medium or large, preferably American Wild Caught
- 2 Tablespoons Zatarain’s Shrimp & Crab Boil seasoning or salt, or Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 cup sweet onion minced
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 medium tomato finely chopped
- 1/4 medium cucumber minced
- 1 stalk celery minced
- 1/4 green bell pepper minced
- 1/4 jalapeno minced
- 3 tablespoons Green Olives chopped, pitted
- 2 cups Tomato Juice Or Clamato
- 2 dashes hot sauce to taste (I used lots)
- 1/4 bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 avocado cut into small cubes
- 1/2 avocado sliced into wedges
- chile powder & black pepper I like Chimayo Chile Powder, or ancho
- Peel shrimp, devein the shrimp and leave the tails on.
- Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 Tablespoons shrimp & crab boil to water.
- Add shrimp and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and rest for about 3 minutes – drain and chill shrimp. Reserve 4 – 8 of the shrimp for garnish. Remove tails from the rest of the shrimp and chop.
- In a glass bowl, combine onions, lime juice and salt, stir and rest for 15-20 minutes as you chop the remaining ingredients.
- Add the minced tomato, cucumber, celery, bell pepper, jalapeno, green olives, tomato juice, chopped or sliced shrimp and several dashes of hot sauce – cover and chill for 1-2 hours.
- Just before serving, stir in cilantro and chopped avocado. Spoon into four margarita glasses and garnish with a lime wedge, a whole shrimp or a slice of avocado. Or all.
- Sprinkle with chile powder and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with saltines or tortilla chips and hot sauce on the side.
Campechana, Mexican Shrimp Cocktail …It’s What’s for Dinner.