Monday, February 18, 2008

Cocteles Mariscos

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)
2 avocados
2 cucumbers
1 red bell pepper
1/2 gal V8 juice
1 cup clam juice
juice of 2 limes
Tapatio sauce

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.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes. Cocteles Mariscos. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every meal in between. For all the fancy foodiness we have here in the pacific northwest, we can't get 'em here, and we're poorer for it.

Two favorites: Mariscos Guillen on Lincoln on Santa Monica/Venice. It's a tiny place. Sidewalk service only. Dirt Cheap. Freakin Killer. On the way to/from LAX the wife and I never miss it.

El Barco in Las Vegas. I think this place may have gone under, but man, it was a slice of Mariscos Heaven. Now, normally I wouldn't be ordering fresh, much less raw, seafood this far inland, but this place is/was an exception. Futbol on the TV. Big ugly plastic beer posters everywhere. Predominantly Spanish speaking clientele, who, I assume needed this little bit of home to maintain their sanity in LV.
Ten Gallon Hat size coctels and killer ceviche. Not a slot machine in sight. Fishy comfort food at its best.

8:41 AM  
Blogger pogo said...

MB, LTNS. Been hangin' at Craig Crawford's and focusing on the dem nomination contest. Hope all is well with you.

I love cocteles - get it every time we go to Mexico.

Little Pogo has become quite the shredder - trying to start his own band - 3 11 year olds, 2 who can play. He's gotten big int Gree Day - Basket Case is the song they're working on. He nails it, the drummer nails it, and their 2nd guitar/bass player can't keep time. Unfortunate for a member of the rhythm section, wouldn't you say? Just ordered him a Hamer Explorer - he thinks it would look cool on stage - I think they should learn more than one song before he worries about a stage show, but what do I know? Do you know anything about 80s Harmony guitars? He saw a Flying V in a local pawn shop (Randy Rhodes redux - in great shape, BTW) that we think may be one and I'm wondering if it's worth considering at $150.

9:11 AM  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

old harmonies are great. i always loved them. had me an old archtop acoustic which i played till it disintegrated on me. as long as the neck and the body fit together everything else on it can be swapped out and fixed. at $150 as long as there's no warp or bow go for it.

9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Triviality, but if you get the cuke at a young enough stage the seeds' flavor is negligible (at least on my tongue).

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These is a great warm afternoon appetizer. I heartily recommend it.

It reads a lot like a non-liquid gazpacho (con los marichos) and that means I'd probably like it!

9:52 AM  
Blogger pogo said...

MB, thanks - neck seemed straight - Little Pogo played it and said it feels better than his Peavey, and all the electronics work. I think I'll buy it and hide it for one of those special occasions. BTW, he still loves the B.C. Rich and he plays the crap out of it.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(mariscos, not marichos)


9:54 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Sounds yummy. I love seafood. I may try it when the weather gets warmer.

8:31 AM  

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