Surprising Shrimp on the Boardwalk

On my first wedding anniversary, my wife was in graduate school and working as a hall director at a university. She had very little time to think, let alone plan anything to celebrate the occasion. Being the good husband, I decided to plan a night away, and since we lived in the residence hall, her only way to really get away from her job was to get away from home. I planned a number of activities, a nice dinner and a night away. When we left for the night, I decided to keep it all a secret and revealed each part as it came time for it. We had a great time and a tradition was started.

The following year, she planned everything and also kept it a secret. Since then, with the exception of our 10th and 20th (this year), we have alternated the planning and surprising. While some years it has been difficult to get away, we have kept this tradition going.

This past year, my wife surprised me with a trip to Atlantic City. The weather was unseasonably warm for the end of October and we spent the days walking the Boardwalk and checking out the casinos. We stopped at Harry’s Oyster Bar and sat out on the patio enjoying a nice evening cocktail. Perusing the menu, we found a Shrimp Cocktail Ceviche. I knew what a ceviche was (something, often fish, cooked not from heat, but from acidity in a liquid such as lime juice), but had never had it myself.

I don’t know if it was the environment, the alcohol or the company, but it was the best shrimp cocktail I had ever had. Once I got home, I petitioned Harry’s for the recipe, but to no avail. This recipe comes close. While the shrimp in this recipe do receive heat, some of the cooking comes from the limes.

A spicy mix of flavors.

As I only had the one lime, I had to settle on bottled juice.

The shrimp in the hot pot.

Ceviche de Camaron: Shrimp Ceviche “Cocktail”

Servings: 3 cups, serving 6 as an appetizer |


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 generous pound unpeeled smallish shrimp (I prefer the ones that are 41/50 count to a pound)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegary Mexican bottled hot sauce (such as Tamazula, Valentina or Búfalo, the latter being on the sweet side)
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin (optional, but recommended to smooth out sharpness)
  • 1 cup diced peeled cucumber or jícama (or 1/2 cup of each)
  • 1 small ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • Salt
  • Several lime slices for garnish
  • Tostadas or tortilla chips, store-bought or homemade or saltine crackers for serving


1. Cooking and Marinating the Shrimp. Bring 1 quart salted water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of the lime juice. Scoop in the shrimp, cover and let the water return to the boil. Immediately remove from the heat, set the lid askew and pour off all the liquid. Replace the cover and let the shrimp steam off the heat for 10 minutes. Spread out the shrimp in a large glass or stainless steel bowl to cool completely. Peel and devein the shrimp if you wish: One by one lay the shrimp on your work surface, make a shallow incision down the back and scrape out the (usually) dark intestinal tract. Toss the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 lime juice, cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

2. The flavorings. In a small strainer, rinse the onion under cold water, then shake off the excess liquid. Add to the shrimp bowl along with the cilantro, ketchup, hot sauce, optional olive oil, cucumber and/or jícama and avocado. Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate if not serving immediately.

3. Serving the ceviche. Spoon the ceviche into sundae glasses, martini glasses, or small bowls: garnish with sprigs of cilantro and slices of lime. Serve with tostadas, tortilla chips or saltines to enjoy alongside.

Working Ahead: The ceviche is best made the day it is served. The flavorings can be added to the shrimp a few hours in advance.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: appetizer, Low Carb, Lunch, Main Dish, Mexican, Recipes, Seafood, Side Dish, snack, Vegetable

Author:The Ranting Chef

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19 Comments on “Surprising Shrimp on the Boardwalk”

  1. May 19, 2012 at 11:50 am #

    Really interesting, I’ve never tried anything like this.


  2. May 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm #

    Wow! Shrimp, lime, avocado, spice, jicama, cilantro…this hits all the right notes for me! I can’t wait to try this one. I agree about the shrimp- you just don’t get the same flavor with the ultra jumbos. Thanks!


  3. Sue Orfila
    May 19, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I’m going to make this tomorrow as part of a belated Cinco de Mayo party. I couldn’t find any Mexican vinegar in the stores. Any suggestions?


  4. May 19, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    That sounds really delicious… I’d have to improvise a bit as I wouldn’t be able to get some of the flavourings, but thanks for the recipe.
    Being the lazy cook I am, the last time I gave guests prawn cocktail, I did as a DIY exercise. Separate ingredients (prawns, various mayos, shredded lettuce and salad bits, spices etc) on a big platter; guests helped themselves and constructed the cocktail according to their level of engineering skills and artistry. They had fun, I saved time and effort, the whole lot got eaten. Messy, but entertaining.


    • Vanessa
      May 19, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      That sounds fun!


  5. Vanessa
    May 19, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    I’ve never tried ceviche and this recipe looks delightful. I could eat a shrimp right about now.


  6. May 19, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Prawn cocktail is yum, so adding spice must be extra-yum! Going to have to try this one! Oh, and what a lovely tradition for your wedding anniversary!! That sounds like lots of fun! 🙂 What did you do for the 10th and 20th?!


  7. May 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Such a beautiful story, how lovely that you both take the effort to surprise each other each year. It makes this recipe even more special because it reminds you of that mini break! I often hear of Atlantic city, the game rooms, boardwalk and that famous song of course!


    • May 20, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      AC is a great place to visit. I don’t know how far you live from the area, but it’s worth a trip. Even if you don’t gamble, there are great restaurants, entertainment, and a variety of clubs for mature adults. Great fun!


  8. May 19, 2012 at 9:07 pm #

    It looks amazing!


  9. May 19, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    This is one I will definitely have to try.


  10. May 19, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Yum! We’ve made salmon ceviche several times, but never shrimp. This looks delicious!


  11. May 20, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Never tried shrimp ceviche. Very delicious post:)


  12. May 20, 2012 at 9:35 am #

    I love ceviche, and this is a beautiful recipe, which I just e-mailed to myself. Thanks for the gift!!


  13. May 22, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Mouth is watering. I always wondered how to make ceviche. Never would have imagined ketchup as an ingredient!


  14. May 22, 2012 at 8:35 pm #

    I’m sometimes wary of ceviches, though I haven’t had a shrimp one, and this partially cooked version sounds awesome. I also love the story of your anniversary tradition with your wife!



  1. Surprising Shrimp on the Boardwalk | El Mercado Del Pueblo - March 23, 2013

    […] Surprising Shrimp on the Boardwalk. […]


  2. Foodie Terms | Rantings of an Amateur Chef - September 6, 2014

    […] ceviche – Using food acid (typically lime and or lemon juice) to “cook”. Often raw or partially cooked seafood is placed in a bowl with the juice and becomes “cooked” over time. Check out this great shrimp cocktail ceviche. […]


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