One of the true pleasures of living nearer to the coast, and at the same time being close to Baja California is the wonderful things Mexican cooks do with the abundant seafood from the Pacific and the Gulf of California.
Cocteles are an institution around here. They are simple and straightforward. Bold flavors presented without apology.
Here's the one I made a couple of days ago.
1 pound cooked and shelled medium shrimp
1 Dungeness crab, cooked and cleaned (a bit more than 1/2 a pound of meat)
3 stalks of celery (remove the strings)
1 red bell pepper
1/2 gal V8 juice
1 cup clam juice
juice of 2 limes
First off, the seafood used can be of any type. There are no hard and fast rules. Popular around here are clams, oysters, octopus, shrimp, and squid. The giant squid from the Sea of Cortez must be seen to be believed. They are some Jules Verne nightmares. I've even taken a small cookie cutter to the wings of stingrays with good success. (cook's note: fileted and cookiecuttered stingray wings make a very reasonable substitute for scallops and abalone)
Take the veggies, using any combination of color and texture that amuses you. Make sure that you seed the cucumbers, because the seeds are bitter and add no food value. Cut it all into small, bitesized pieces. Mix with the same sized chunks of the seafood and put into a large, non-reactive bowl. Put the juices over them, again, adjusting the proportions of the V8 and the clam juice to your taste. I like lots of clam juice, it's a good ocean flavor. Hose it down liberally with Tapatio (and no, there is no substitute for this brand of salsa picante, if you used anything else you'd be thrown out of Baja as an undesirable). Chill and serve in tall glasses with ice tea spoons. The proper companion is corn tortillas, warm and soft, or deep fried into chips. Using saltine crackers will identify you as a hopeless gringo.
These is a great warm afternoon appetizer. I heartily recommend it.3B's