Coctel de Camarones Y Frijoles de Cerveza con Tostada
by Rainbow Bobbins
Back in 1997 I drove from S.Cal to San Francisco to visit Allison Penner and Liz Wiens who took me to Puerto Allegre. I loved the place, mainly because we scored pitchers of margaritas while still underage. I’ve been going back to Puerto Allegre ever since. Margaritas, mariachi and dark booths are still the main appeal of Puerto Allegre. The margaritas are strong enough to make you love the food. Not that the food is all that bad. It is a step up from taqueria food and can really hit the spot with saucey enchiladas, crispy corn chips, fresh salsa, grilled beef fajitas on warm and oh-so-soft flour tortillas. Since 1997 the restaurant, and the neighborhood in general has become a bit of hotspot and people on Yelp complain about hipsters. On Friday and Saturday nights the wait can be up to an hour. If you are willing to wait (more for the experience, I’d say) there is one dish that stands out on the menu: The Albondigas Soup and one that shines: The coctel de camarones.
Now that I have relocated to a place with poop for Mexican food – I’ve been craving my favorite dish from Puerto Allegre: coctel de camarones. This dish is more like a ceviche than the ‘shrimp cocktail’ ubiquitous at casino buffets and golf course country clubs. Prawns, cilantro and avocado soak in a tomato-based sauce that is vinegary, citrusy and sweet. Compared to much of the menu, the coctel de camarones is light and fresh. Puerto Allegre serves is in a large margarita glass with saltines and sells it for $10 a pop.
I poked around at a few coctel de camarones recipes but none seemed to capture the ingredients that were in Puerto Allegre’s. In the end I just threw together what seemed right and it turned out fabulous! Although lacking some of the richness of the Puerto Allegre version – this version really was very tasty. My test bunny, D, was impressed. I got the “This is REALLY good, babe” and the “this one is going in the cookbook”. That’s, like, four stars ‘n shit.
To go along with the meal I cooked up some beer beans (grab your gasX now) and threw them on store-bought tostadas. The beans were amazing. There is a black bean dish I make from scratch called “mamalitas” which is one of my favorite foods ever but takes a lot of time and prep – these beans were almost as good as my mamalitas and they were a cinch. What would have been an amazing addition is Queso Fresco – If you make these beans with the tostada or tortillas I strongly suggest crumbling on this salty-dry cheese on top. Queso Fresco is available at Mexican markets. Overall a super-yummy and fun meal.
Coctel de Camarones, Frijoles de Cerveza con Tostada. Served with Tapatío and Sour Cream.
Sidenote: I love Tapatío. Especially on Cheese Pizza. Mr. Jose-Luis Saavedra began making Tapatio back in 1971. This year Tapatío is celebrating their 35th year producing yummy hotsauce as a successful, family owned business. Read their history here. Hopefully they don’t sellout to some soulless food processing corporation. Go Tapatio!! I love you, you make pizza and avocados super yum-yum. I even like you on sheets of fried pork fat. They are selling Tapatío birthday mugs – I want one.
Coctel de Camarones
1 pound unpeeled shrimp (not the tiny ones that look like baby fingers, get the prawns, but not the big honk’n prawns that look like fat man’s fingers)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Tapatio
1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ tablespoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of vinegar
½ of a jalapeño or more, seeded and diced small
1/2 medium white onion, diced
2 Cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or more to taste
1 cup diced peeled cucumber
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
Several lime slices for garnish
Tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade or saltine crackers for serving
- Cooking the Shrimp. Bring salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Add the shrimp. Allow the water to return to a boil then immediately drain the water out of the pot. Keep the shrimp in the pot and cover with a lid (set slightly askew to allow air circulation) and allow the shrimp to steam cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine the ketchup, lime, tapatio, olive oil, sugar, vinegar and tapatio in a small bowl. Make adjustments as you see fit.
- Chop onion, garlic, cilantro, cucumber, tomato and avocado and place in a large bowl.
- After the shrimp has cooled, peel and devein. Keep the shrimp whole or chop in half and add to the veggies in the large bowl then cover with the ketchup sauce. Stir ingredients together and allow flavors to mingle in the fridge for 1 hour to 1 day.
- Serve with tostadas, chips or saltine crackers.
2 cans or bottles of beer
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped cilantro
2-4 14oz cans of black beans
1 yellow onion, diced
2 T of Olive oil
Add olive oil to pot on medium-high heat and sauté onion, cilantro and jalapeño for 2-4 minutes. Add cans of beans, half drained, half with juices. Add one beer. Allow mixture to come to boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 1 to 1 and ½ hours keeping your eye on the beans and adding beer when the moisture cooks off.
Coctel de Camarones
$6.00 Shrimp (1lb frozen, uncooked, deveined shrimp from Trader Joes)
Whoa, I am surprised. This is way more than I thought it would be. It is enough to feed 4 people as a featured side dish or appetizer, maybe even 6 people as an appetizer. Plus, I had some left over Avo, Jalapeño, Cucumber, Tostadas, etc.
$2.40 3 cans of organic black beans
$3.00 Beer (22oz)
$ .30 Onion
$ .30 Jalapeño
Woo-hoo! Yummy bargain. That’s how it should be with beans. Because the beans were so good and because I burnt some, we ended up not having any left over. But typically I’d say you can easily feed 3 with 3 cans of beans and have some for lunch the next day.