September means the best time of year is upon us … shrimp season … Camarones te amo!
It is well established that I love shrimp. So naturally I love living in one of the shrimp capitals of the world. Shrimping is so important to our town’s economy there is a statue in the Malecon “El Camaronero” honoring the Shrimp Fisherman or Shrimper. There is also the Plaza del Camarón (Shrimp Plaza) where community events are held, like the popular Mermaid Market, and the Oaxacan Art Fair.
A very brief history of Puerto Peñasco fishing and shrimping.
The city was founded 1927.
Prior to the 1920’s Rocky Point was a safe camping harbor for fisherman in the Sea of Cortez.
In the 1920’s it was a haven from prohibition.
From 1930 to 1940 the city became known as an important shrimp port because the Sea of Cortez offers several species of fish and shrimp.
In 1980 the Shrimp Plaza was built to pay homage to the fishermen of Puerto Peñasco. It is the oldest square in the city and the giant Shrimp a landmark.
Today fishing and shrimping remain one of the reasons Rocky Point is famous and a highlight of vacations and for those of us who live here. There are three main shrimp varieties in the Sea of Cortez, white shrimp (most common) brown shrimp (more flavorful) and the big blue shrimp (most popular). Sizes are usually small, medium, large, and jumbo.
Almost any restaurant in town will have at least one shrimp dish on the menu, and on the Malecon, whole menus are dedicated to this delicacy. If you don’t like shrimp (craziness) or you are allergic (tragic) Rocky Point also offers fresh caught fish daily year-round. My favorites are flounder and grouper.
Rocky Point has made me something of a shrimp snob in that I don’t eat shrimp anywhere where it’s not caught locally. I will eat frozen shrimp from the local fishermen in the off season, but I’m never buying any frozen grocery store shrimp ever again. Don’t get me wrong though, if someone serves me an American shrimp cocktail made from it, I’m still gonna eat it!
This year I had the opportunity to eat fresh shrimp from Puget Sound in Washington, courtesy of my cousin Max, who actually went out shrimping and caught it himself, very impressive. It was smaller, had a different taste and texture, but it was muy delicioso!
Probably my favorite way to make shrimp is sautéing it in butter and garlic. If you buy the jumbo or colossal shrimp and cook it in butter it tastes a lot like lobster. My second favorite is the Mexican shrimp cocktail. These two dishes I prefer to make at home because I can eat a lot more shrimp for a lot less dinero. If I’m eating out, I like to order it wrapped in bacon, coconut fried, or go to one of the restaurants on the Malecon where I can get a large platter cooked three different ways, grilled, fried, and in garlic sauce. If you want to try something traditional and spicy, Aguachile de Camaron is a popular dish. And you can never go wrong with shrimp tacos.
For those of you who don’t know me, my main qualifications for cooking are quick and easy. Here’s my recipe for Mexican shrimp cocktail and all the ingredients can be purchased locally!
- 1 Kilo medium shrimp – peeled, deveined, tails removed
- 2 Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cucumber, finely chopped
- 3-4 stalks celery, finely chopped
- ½ Onion, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems discarded and leaves chopped
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 ½ cups chilled Clamato (or more, to desired consistency)
- 1 cup ketchup (optional, omit and add more Clamato if preferred)
- 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (I use Valentina)
- 2 avocados, chopped
Step 1 Bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw in the shrimp and boil for 3 minutes. The shrimp should be pink and not overcooked. Once cooked, run it under cold water to cool it to touch and chop the shrimp into small pieces and put in the refrigerator to chill.
Step 2 Cut all vegetables into finely chopped pieces and mix together in a large bowl. Add the chilled shrimp. Squeeze the lime juice and pour on top of the shrimp and veggie mixture.
Step 3 Whisk the Clamato, ketchup, and hot pepper sauce in a separate bowl; stir dressing into shrimp mixture. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Step 4 Once the mixture has chilled for an hour or more to allow all flavors to mix, serve in a bowl with chips or crackers on the side. Garnish with avocado and more hot sauce if you like it spicier!