December 23, 2006
It’s rumored there’s a wise man who lives on the shores of the Southern Yucatan in a modest palace of driftwood and stone. The locals and tourists flock to this man for his potions and advice on all matters of life and death. I traveled by kayak to meet this one affectionately known as Don Roberto.
When I arrived, he was at the end of a consult. He told the young man to go home, sweep the floor three times, then kneel upon it and pray. Meanwhile, his wife would need to remain with him to develop a poultice.
After the young man had left, Don Roberto whipped up a green concoction, tossed it with the most succulent shrimp and perched them atop an ice cold Tecate. The wife’s clothes peeled like banana skin and Don Roberto shooed me out the door.
Coctel de Camarones con Salsa Tomatillo
Make the Salsa
2 serrano peppers, deseeded
1/2 yellow onion, cut into chunks
1 tsp raw sugar
Juice of one lime
2 Tbs cool water as needed
Simmer the tomatillos in water for 10 minutes until soft and the skins are peeling. Remove, drain and cool. Blend all ingredients minus the water on low. If the salsa is too thick, add the water. If stored in the refrigerator overnight, the salsa will thicken. Don Roberto doesn’t have a refrigerator, but he always has plenty of clients waiting on the beach.
Steam the Shrimp
1 can of Tecate
1 jalapeno pepper, halved and deseeded
8 large shrimp, preferably with heads
In a saucepot, bring the beer and the jalapeño to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the whole, unpeeled shrimp. Cover and steam for about 3 minutes until pink. Don’t overcook as it reduces the clothes peeling power. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the heads, peel and de-vein.
Assemble the Coctel
2 cans ice cold Tecate
2 pinches of salt
Squeeze of lime
8 large steamed shrimp
Toss the shrimp with the salsa. Wash and open two cans of ice cold Tecate. Sprinkle a little sea salt and squeeze the lime over the top of each. Arrange the shrimp on top of the can and pour a teaspoon more of salsa over each. Feed her the shrimp like grapes then pour the beer into a tall glass. The salsa, salt and lime mixes with the beer to make magic. Serves 2.