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When you grow up in a seaport city, you know that seafood is going to be a big part of your life, and more so if you happen to live between the Navy Yard and a seafood packing warehouse. Believe it or not, I actually didn’t like eating fish and seafood as a child! I thought we ate it a little too often, especially that summer that my older brother took a job next door at the seafood warehouse. Almost every other day he would come home from work carrying a big bucket of shrimp. Fried shrimp, steamed shrimp, garlic shrimp, shrimp in sauce, shrimp cocktails, shrimp with rice… my mom made it all. I felt like I was Bubba from Forrest Gump! I was eager for classes to start again, that way my brother could go back to high school and we could finally take a break from all that shrimp.
My hatred of seafood changed over time, however, when I moved to Southern Mexico. There I was introduced to the ways people from the Yucatan Peninsula prepare and spice up their dishes, including their use of the famous Habanero. If you have been reading this blog for a while, then I’m sure you’ve noticed how much I love hot sauces, and you might’ve also seen some of the Habanero recipes, too. The combination of seafood with Habanero takes me back to the city of Chetumal in the State of Quintana Roo, and brings back memories of the blue sea and the white beaches. And of course, of the seafood.
The shrimp and clam cocktails are among the most famous seafood cocktails found in Mexican seafood restaurants. You can also find shrimp and clam together in a mixed cocktail. The shrimp is usually prepared raw and marinated with lime juice, or a mix of lime juice and orange juice. For the sauce, there are some slight variations that use diced tomatoes and other types of peppers, according to the region.
To buy the Habanero Black Label Sauce, go check out your local Wal-Mart Store; they usually carry the 4 different sauces from El Yucateco. Look for them in the Latin Food aisle. They’re often located just at eye level. The Black Label Sauce is exclusively available at Walmart.
- 1 1/2 lb. uncooked shrimp, heads off*
- 1/2 onion
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small thyme branch
- 2 cups of Ketchup
- 1 Tablespoon Black Label Habanero Reserve “El Yucateco” Sauce
- 1/4 cup Lime juice
- 1 1/2 cup Shrimp cooking broth**
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 Avocado, diced
- 4 –6 Lime wedges
- Hot Habanero Sauce “El Yucateco”
- Olive oil
* If you prefer to use already cooked and peeled shrimp on this recipe, use 1 pound of already-cooked shrimp and one bottle of clam juice to substitute for the shrimp broth.
**Add 1 cup of shrimp broth; if it’s too thick for your taste, then add the other 1/2 cup.
1. Rinse the shrimp in a colander under cool running water. Remove shrimp shell and tails. It is easier to peel the shrimp starting from the underside, by the swimming legs. The shells come off very easily that way.
2. With the help of a pairing knife, devein the shrimp, making a shallow cut along the back of the shrimp. Remove the exposed vein and wipe knife blade with a paper towel.
3. Start boiling 6 cups of water in a large stock pot with 1/2 a medium onion, 1 bay leaf, and a small Thyme branch. Once it starts boiling, add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes.
4. After 2 minutes, remove pot from the heat, and move the shrimp into a colander to drain. Let the shrimp cool for at least 1/2 hour. Reserve about 1 1/2 cup of the shrimp cooking broth.
If you can’t wait to try the shrimp until they’re cooled, you can just eat them as a snack with lime and Habanero sauce! The new Black Label Reserve Sauce has a smoky flavor since it’s made with roasted Habanero pepper. If you want to check out all the types of Habanero sauces from “El Yucateco”, or just want to find inspiration for your recipes, check out their website HERE or their Facebook Fan Page HERE.
5. In a large bowl, place the ketchup sauce.
6. Add the Habanero Sauce, lime juice, and shrimp broth. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
7. Once the shrimp has cooled, divide into four (4) cups, pour some sauce over the shrimp, and top with the avocado, onion and cilantro. For everyone’s personal taste, serve alongside olive oil, Habanero Sauce, lime wedges and Saltine Crackers.