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Like a player piano that pretty much plays itself–with a little help from someone to tend it–certain dishes just about make themselves.  A Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Cocktail is like that.  How the flavours of the fresh ingredients combine–not mastering the steps of a detailed recipe or technique– is what makes this first course succeed.  Once you know the formula, you can make one, or a couple…or many of these– without ever referring to a book.  The effort one might otherwise spend in making the first course may, instead, go into another course of the menu.

And…Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Cocktails may be set out at guests’ places in advance–before anyone is seated–where they make a welcoming impression as people come to the table.

Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Cocktails (for 6 people, an amount easy to increase or decrease ~ or serve to a vegetarian by omitting the shrimp)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF.

About Preparation in Advance:  All the ingredients may be prepared several hours in advance, with the exception of the coriander and avocados which should be cut and added right before mixing the Cocktails with the oil, lime and seasonings and putting them into glasses or on serving dishes.  If it is more convenient for the timing of the rest of the meal, the Cocktails may be arranged in the glasses about an hour ahead of time, covered in plastic and refrigerated.  The lime juice and the plastic covering will prevent the avocados from darkening.

Ingredients:

(By adding more shrimp and serving them mixed in with the fresh ingredients on lettuce leaves, the Cockatails transform into a Shrimp Salad for a Light Lunch.)

  • 12 large Shrimp, peeled, cleaned and cooked (See instructions in Steps 1 and 2 below):  simply omit the shrimp for a vegetarian guest’s cocktail
  • 2 large Mangoes, peeled, cut in slices and then, in cubes
  • 2 Avocados, peeled, cut in slices and then, in cubes
  • 12 Cherry Tomatoes, cut in quarters
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of fresh Coriander, cut in small pieces with scissors or chopped:  cutting with scissors bruises the leaves less and they keep their green color better
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • the juice of 1 Key Lime, or up to 2 Key Limes if you are a great fan of citrus
  • several drops of Tabasco (4 – 8 is a good range–begin with fewer and then increase as you like)
  • freshly ground Black Pepper and Salt
  • optional Garnish:  sprigs of fresh Coriander

Equipment:

  • a pot for boiling the shrimp
  • a bowl of iced water for cooling the shrimp
  • a bowl for mixing the Cocktail ingredients together
  • Stemmed glasses and cocktail forks are nice for serving the Cocktails, but not essential

1.  If the shrimp are totally intact, twist off and discard the heads.  Shell them.  (Some people leave the end portion of the tail on so that the shrimp curl in on themselves less when cooked, others completely shell the shrimp for easier eating.  The ones in the photos have got an end bit of tail shell attached.  It’s a matter of preference.)  Cut along the curved back of each shrimp and remove the black or gray-ish vein that runs all along the length of it.  (Either pull it out or  rinse it out under cold water.)

2.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the shrimp and simmer them covered. When they float to the top and have changed from opaque to white they are done.  (This will happen in a matter of minutes, 3 – 8 depending on the size of the shrimp.)  Immediately drain the shrimp and put them in a bowl of ice water to stop their cooking.  When they are cool, drain them, pat them dry and refrigerate them until you mix the Cocktails:

3.  In a bowl, mix together the cubes of mango, cherry tomato, avocado, and green onion.

4.  Squeeze the lime juice over all these fresh things and add the olive oil, Tabasco, the cut (or chopped) fresh coriander, and several grinds of fresh black pepper and salt.  Mix well, but gently with your hands or a spoon.

5.  Divide the mixed cocktail ingredients between glasses and arrange 2 shrimp on each cocktail.  Garnish with a sprig of fresh coriander if you like.

Lunch from the Grill in the Congo begins with Shrimp, Avocado and Mango Cocktails as the First Course.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012

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