Veracruzan Seafood Cocktail (Vuelve a La Vida)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6


Roberto Santibañez, chef at Fonda restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, shared his recipe for this bracing seafood cocktail, a popular Mexican hangover cure (its name means "return to life" in Spanish). This recipe first appeared in the 2012 SAVEUR 100, with the article Vuelve a La Vida.


  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb. cleaned calamari, bodies cut into 1/6″-wide rings, tentacles halved lengthwise
  • 12 oz. boneless, skinless red snapper filets
  • 34 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 lb. plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup pimiento-stuffed green olives
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 14 cup Worcestershire
  • 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
  • 16 small oysters, shucked, juices reserved
  • 16 small clams, shucked, juices reserved
  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced
  • Saltine crackers, for serving


Step 1

Bring bay leaves, garlic, and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan. Add shrimp; cook until pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, and cut into 1″ pieces; set aside in a bowl. Add calamari bodies and tentacles to boiling water; cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to bowl with shrimp; set aside. In another bowl, combine snapper, half the lime juice, and oregano; season with salt and let sit until fish is opaque, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Step 2

In a bowl, whisk together remaining lime juice with tomatoes, ketchup, tomato juice, olives, cilantro, Worcestershire, oil, serrano and habanero chiles, and onion; add reserved shrimp and calamari, snapper, and oysters and clams with their juices, and fold gently to combine. Season with salt. Serve seafood cocktail in large goblets or bowls, with slices of avocado and Saltine crackers on the side.

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