Shrimp Cocktail – Mexican Restaurant Style

aka “Mike’s Mexican Style Shrimp Cocktail”

Shrimp cocktail Mexican Restaurant StyleI also like to refer to this as “Summertime Soup.” This is a really great recipe for hot summer temps when you want soup, but don’t want extra heat. One of my favorite dishes to order at a Mexican restaurant is shrimp cocktail. It’s not your usual cocktail sauce covered shrimp. It’s lighter, zesty, and really refreshing.

We’re dealing with triple digit heat here in California. It’s too hot to grill unless you want to wait around until ten o’clock at night to fire up the grill. Two months out of the year we pretty much just hibernate in the air conditioning. This dish almost makes up for not being able to barbecue. We’ll make up a batch, invite friends over, and have margaritas, chips and salsa, and shrimp cocktail. It’s always a crowd pleaser.

What is great about this recipe is that it’s easy to play with and tweak to adjust to your tastes. When I’m looking to duplicate something I’ve had at a restaurant, I do a lot of searches and I look at a lot of recipes, what I end up making is more of a hodge podge of a dozen or so different recipes. Maybe one ingredient from this, or one idea from that, but then I add my own spin. My version of this actually has cucumber and diced tomatoes, which isn’t really found in most recipes.

This shrimp cocktail is a make ahead dish! It needs to sit 12 – 24 hours!

Plan on making this the day before you need it. It really needs to sit and chill 12-24 hours. Note that the recipe says “heaping” a lot. I’m not baking, I don’t level off my ingredients in the measuring cups. Often I eyeball my garlic pile and try to make it about the same size as my pile of chopped jalapeños. This recipe makes a big bowl of this stuff. Keep it covered in the fridge and it will last a weekend, if it lasts that long. Around here this recipe is usually long gone before it ever has a chance to go bad.

Mike's Shrimp Cocktail – Mexican Restaurant Style


  • 2lbs cooked shrimp (the 50-70 per pound size), peeled and deveined
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and diced into bite size chunks
  • 1 jalapeño diced, don't seed it. Seriously.
  • 3 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 medium red onion finely diced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro - just cut off the biggest portion of stems and chop finely.
  • 1 can of Rotel Tomatoes (don't drain it. Use the whole can and juice)
  • 3 cups of tomato and clam juice cocktail (I prefer Picante Clamato)
  • 1/4 cup ketchup (heaping)
  • 4-6 limes juiced (you want a solid, heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup prepared horseradish (heaping)
  • Dashes of hot sauce (get a good Mexican hot sauce like Tapatio) to taste
  • Salt - to taste
  • 2-4 avocados - peeled, pitted, and diced (to garnish)


  1. This is the easy part. Put your shrimp in a bowl, add all the other ingredients (except avocado) and stir well.
  2. Cover and put it in the fridge 12-24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to serve - dice up your avocado. Ladle shrimp cocktail into bowls or cups, top with diced avocado, and serve with hot sauce and lime wedges on the side.
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Kebabs for Mother’s Day!

kebabs for Mother's DayMike makes killer kebabs, seriously, the best grilled meat and veggies on a stick you’ve ever had. Mother’s Day, a couple of years ago, he made steak and shrimp kebabs with lobster tails, over open coals on our Santa Maria Grill. It was the best Mother’s Day dinner I’ve ever had, no restaurant or champagne brunch could even come close. And, in light of that, I requested the kebabs again for dinner this year.

That’s right, right now, as I am typing this, chunks of top sirloin are marinating in my fridge.

The kebabs he’s making for Mother’s Day 2016 use top sirloin steaks marinated in Basque Marinade (a red wine based marinade) and, of course, combined with bright colored, fresh fruits and vegetables. You can change these up depending on what you find at the local store or farmer’s market. Squash or zucchini would be a great addition, even eggplant, or some hot peppers. Mike’s typical kebab M.O. consists of red onion, bell pepper, mushroom, fresh pineapple, and tomatoes. The shrimp kebabs are much the same minus the Basque marinade. He’ll probably brush those with melted butter and garlic while they cook.

I love kebabs because they are good cold! They are perfect for a snack when the party runs late! Plus, they’re light, pretty easy to prepare and cook, and they make for a dramatic presentation.

Cali Creamin Vanilla ale, steak and shrimp kebabsSpeaking of dramatic, that’s the only word to describe my reaction to a new beer I recently tried. Brewed by Mother Earth Brew Co. Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Ale is billed as a “cream soda with a kick.” With the rise of “hard sodas” lately, I wouldn’t want anyone to think Cali Creamin’ Vanilla Ale belongs in that section of the fridge. It is reminiscent of cream soda – without the sweet. I actually had one with a burger earlier today (Moo Creamery, Spanish Chorizo Burger) and, I have to say, it was AMAZE-BALLS. It’s easily the best beer I’ve tried in the last year. Find it, order it, do something, you won’t regret it. Personally, it’s going on my list of brew houses to visit.