Shrimp and Octopus Cocktail

  • Serves

    serves 8


Seafood cocktails like this one, served at a stand in the market, are typical of Veracruz.


  • 2 small octopuses (about 8 oz. each), cleaned
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp
  • 34 cup ketchup
  • 14 cup Mexican hot sauce, preferably Valentina or Tamazula
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 ripe avocado


Step 1

Put octopus, bay leaves, one-third of the onions, and 6 cups cold water in a medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently until octopus is tender when pierced with a skewer, about 1 hour. Use a slotted spoon to transfer octopus to a bowl and reserve cooking broth. Hold octopus under cold running water and rub off skin and little "suction cups." Cut into 1⁄2" pieces.

Step 2

Increase heat to high and bring cooking broth to a boil. Add shrimp, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Remove pot from heat, set lid askew, and pour broth into a medium bowl. Cover pot again and set aside to let shrimp "steam" for 5 minutes, then fill pot with cold water to stop the cooking. When shrimp are cool, drain, then peel, discarding shells and tails.

Step 3

Combine ketchup and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside. Combine shrimp, octopus, cilantro, lime juice, the remaining onions, and three-fourths of the ketchup mixture in a large bowl. Add 1 1⁄2 cups of the reserved cooking broth. Mix well. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Step 4

Just before serving, pit, peel, and slice the avocado. Spoon cocktail into small bowls and top each with avocado slices and a spoonful of remaining ketchup mixture. Serve with saltine crackers on the side, if you like.

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