Sunday, April 15, 2012

Turning A Frown Upside Down!

Cringe-making, I know. The title...

Richie was hellbent to attend the Clam Chowder Cook-Off at the Redondo Beach Pier yesterday. We went last year and he loved it. I less so. I don't like clams OR chow-dah.

When we parked in the pier parking structure, I pointed to the sign that says: 20 minutes 50 cents" as a warnng not to linger.

Out on the International Boardwalk, no sign of any festivities whatsoever. Richie inquired and was told that at the last minute the chow-dah folks cancelled with no explanation of why. I was pleased because it meant we could get the car back before we paid for parking that would equal the price of the car when new.

But Richie said, "C'mon - let's get a Mexican shrimp cocktail!" nodding at El Baja Chef. We've been there before and liked it.

The shrimp cocktails came in big, heavy goblets on a plate strewn with packets of crackers. The cocktail was a thin, reddish broth with slivers of avocados, chopped sweet onion, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped cilantro and, nestled in the bottom of the goblet, were about eight good-sized shrimp.

The broth wasn't as deeply colored as some I've seen so I asked our server how they do it. He was happy to explain. "Clamato, a dash of the salty water we cook the shrimp in -- don't let the shrimp cook too long; they'll get tough - and a dash of catsup for sweetness." It all worked well.

Going home, I got to wondering when the first shrimp cocktail was invented and when did Mexican shrimp cocktails come in? I didn't find "The Invention of the Shrimp Cocktail" but there were references to the late 19th/early 20th century. The sauce has always been spicey using variations of catsup with horseradish, Tabasco or cayenne.

A 1909 recipe: 2 T ctsup, garnished with hard-boiled, chopped eggs and lettuce leaves. Glad the chopped eggs are gone...

A 1920 recipe for the Mexican version:
1 large can V-8 juice or Clamato
2 minced avocados
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and minced
1 medium red onion, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced.

EL BAJA CHEF, 102 International Boardwalk, Redondo Beach (Pier) 310-376-0838
Their business card reads "Go to Facebook - leave a coment!" but I leave that to the non-technologically challenged.

No comments: