I recently traveled to San Diego and got to not only enjoy some great food but also visit with one of my oldest and dearest friends. My friend Natasha is a native of San Diego so I get the privilege of seeing it through a local's eye. I know everyone says that they have a "ride or die friend" - Natasha would be mine. I swear I could show up with a shovel, a rug and tell her we got to go and she would just say”Give me a minute to fix my hair”. I’ve got stories with her ranging from hijacking a French Quarter buggy to the time she threw cards at my head after a rousing game of Go Fish.
Now, many have heard me rant about my dislike of many things California. That does not mean I don’t love many things about California. I lived there off and over a couple decades and learned the goods and the bad of the State. I probably shouldn’t go into the bad or I am sure I will get hate mail in spades. I tried living all over the State but just couldn’t find a place that felt like it could be home, like an old friend of mine Bucky James used to say I felt like “A Squid in a fruit salad” ( still my favorite description of being somewhere you don’t belong). Maybe it was the almost always perfect weather or the fact that finding a fellow smart ass amongst all the transplants is not an easy task, either way, my need to come to Louisiana eventually won out. California is where I spent my formative years, I met my first love there and had so many amazing adventures with life long friends that I will always cherish.
San Diego was an area I really didn’t get to know until after I had moved back to Louisiana. Let me tell you I am a fan. I mean yeah there is the beautiful scenery, amazing weather etc. I mean who really cares about that when there is a taco truck every other block, fresh seafood dishes abound and the search for a good margarita is Childs play. As always try to find a local to lead you to the best places. Like any other town that's a tourist destination, it's very easy to get trapped with overpriced sub par food.
To start off with this “Inspired by San Diego” series is Sangrita Shrimp Cocktail. My friend Stephen Rey insisted I try this. I quickly learned to listen to his suggestions. Sangrita is usually served as a side to a shot of tequila or you add tequila to it and it's similar to a Bloody Maria. Well, some genius at Cantina Mayahuel in San Diego decided it would make a good base for shrimp cocktail. Y’all! I mean, y'all! So good! Luckily I got this cocktail before my other happy hour cocktails or I wouldn’t have appreciated the freshness and kick of spice in this dish. Let's just say it was happy hour, the margaritas were from scratch, and this momma does not partake in the tequila very often.
Once you have a good quality margarita you can’t go back to those cloyingly sweet unnaturally bright things they dare call a margarita. I knew I needed to cut myself off when I had to remind myself, “Jolie, you are not on the front porch. You are in public and not every person within earshot needs to hear your opinions laced with your inclination for profanity.” It's not good when you have to tell yourself to behave. Since most of us can't just hop over to San Diego on a whim I decided I must try to re-create this so y’all could enjoy it too.
When you make it you will probably have some leftover Sangrita. Seems to me a perfectly good reason to ask a friend to bring over some tequila. Actually, if you just add tequila to this mix you have now started cocktail hour. Remind me to tell y’all about the time my friend convinced me to drink tequila and my night ended with me sitting on a stolen bar stool, yelling about discriminating against "breeders" in the middle of Southern Decadence Festival in New Orleans. Yeah, that's why they kicked me out - couldn't have been because I consumed enough tequila to kill a small horse. Tequila I swear is Spanish for Bad decisions. Anyway...
Considering how much talk I about tequila is in this post I guess its a good thing this recipe is easy and somewhat fool proof. I make the Sangrita mix first and set it aside while I prepare the rest. To make the Sangrita you just combine all the ingredients in a medium size bowl and set in the fridge till you're ready for it. The only ingredient you might not find at your local grocery is the Tajin Clasico Seasoning. It is found at almost all Latino grocery stores. If you can, find it. I really like how it amps up this cocktail and it looks pretty when you rim your bowl with it.
I quickly boil my shrimp so they are just cooked through, drain and set them aside to cool. Chop all veggies and herbs (except your avocado) and set aside. Combine your shrimp and veggies in a large bowl and add sangria and combine. Cover and set in the fridge for 2-3 hours. When ready to serve, add avocado and combine. For an added zing, I rim my bowls with the Tija seasoning
Prep time:30 minutes
Finished product: 2 1/2 - 3/12 hours
32 Ounces tomato juice
2 cups orange juice
1 cup fresh lime juice
7 dashes hot sauce
4 dashes worcestshire sauce
1 guajillo chile, stemmed, seeded and soaked in boiling water for 15 minutes then finely chopped.
1/2 Tbl ground black pepper
1 Tbl smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Tija Clasico Seasoning
Combine all ingredients in medium bowl, cover and refrigerate.
*** If you want you can skip making the shrimp cocktail and add 1 cup of tequila instead and just have cocktails!
2 lbs cooked shrimp
1/2 red onion diced
1 cucumber diced
2 tomatoes seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro finely chopped
1 jalapeno finely diced
2 avocados diced( do this right before serving)
3 cups Sangrita mix
Combine shrimp, veggies, and cilantro in a large bowl.
Add sangrita and combine.
Cover and place in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Right before serving mix in avocado.
Combine and serve.
I garnish with Tina Seasoning and lime wedges.