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Fresh Mexican Shrimp Cocktails in Guayabitos and Sayulita


Fresh Mexican Shrimp Cocktails in Guayabitos and Sayulita

Last week we headed for the coast, to Guayabitos and Los Ayala.   During a breakneck schedule of floating in the sea and eating fresh seafood, we managed to explore the beautiful little town of Sayulita.  Omar made shrimp coctails and fantastically fresh aguachile–and shows you how!

May 26, 2008

Fresh shrimp cocktails.

Fresh shrimp cocktails.

Omar and I just got back from a few glorious days down at the beach.

Every trip is different, even if you go to the same place with the same people (Ceci and Pablo came too, and their new daughter Tere.  And of course Coco).  This time we just wanted to kick back and relax.

We started out after breakfast on Sunday morning.  It is the hot season here, and after a month of temperatures in the 90s we were all ready to do some serious splashing in the Pacific.  We passed through Guayabitos on our way to Los Ayala and the Villas Minerva, where they gave us a third floor ‘bungalo’ facing directly to Japan.  They even gave us a discount, probably because I’m cute..

Ah, the beach!  At low season we had the place to ourselves.  The water was placid and warm, and we swam and floated and dove.

But we didn’t snorkel.  One of our very favorite activities was kyboshed by an algal tide.  In water usually crystal clear, you could barely see your feet.

Visibility wasn’t the only factor influenced by the fluorescent green algae.  Fishermen told us that they have to go 25 kilometers out before the water clears and they start finding fish.  Although we managed to buy something nice and fresh and tasty every day for the kitchen, the amount, selection, and size of fish was definitely diminished.

And because it is low season, the kayak guy wasn’t renting—although we met his brother and could have asked for kayaks if we really wanted.

But what we wanted was a good ‘relax.’

We did rent a launch to take us out to the island, where Coco dug in the sand and we floated and chased red crabs.

Of course we ate.  Omar made chilorio, and fried red snapper, and beautiful shrimp cocktails.  And–oh my God—aguachile.  Aguachile is impeccable shrimp, cleaned and quartered and marinated in lime juice and salt, tossed with chopped cucumber and thinly sliced Serrano peppers and served over tostadas.  Fresh and fiery and absolutely beautiful.

After lolling about for a couple of days we finally worked up enough energy to pile in the car and drive through the jungle a half hour to the seaside village of Sayulita.  Well.  Where Los Ayala is laid back and family-style, with few foreigners, Sayulita is hopping with blonde surfers, fantastic shops and bakeries, and English-speaking real estate agencies listing fancy properties.

We could see why.  Sayulita is really beautiful.  The beach isn’t quite as nice as in Los Ayala, and while the bay is very attractive, it isn’t quite as fabulous as at Guayabitos.  But there are rolling hills and jungle, with million dollar houses (you can tell I’m old—a million dollar house sounds like Jed Clampett’s place to me) poking out of the palm trees.

And there is a totally different crowd.  Now, we go to the beach to swim and hike and snorkel and kayak, but ogling is fun too, and truthfully, there isn’t much of that at Los Ayala.  I’m like Charles Atlas at Los Ayala.  At Sayulita, we looked for the bouncer who only let in the models.  A lot of folks in Sayulita must be pretty pleased when they look in the mirror in the morning.

It’s the waves.  While in Los Ayala and Guayabitos you are basically swimming in a bathtub, Sayulita has rather impressive, rolling, crashing waves.  With rather impressive wave riders.  Did I mention that the style now is to wear your bathing trunks at the hip, and then let them slide about three extra inches toward China?  We were broad sided by more than one killer wave while appreciating the natural beauty of the area.

It was wonderful.  It has been some time since we swam in some big waves, and we had a blast.  Ceci wore her life vest, because she isn’t a strong swimmer.  We all had a constant battle with the undertow as it tried to move us down the coast and farther from shore.  It definitely wasn’t the place for Tere and Coco to take a dip, and Pablo stayed with them on the beach.  I moved muscles I forgot I had, and we had the time of our lives.

I’m not sure if we will ever stay in Sayulita.  It is a little touristy and expensive for our tastes—not to put it down.  Sayulita is a classy place.  I think we will continue to stay in Los Ayala—but now we have a great, nearby town to visit on a day trip.

Write us at e365mexico@yahoo.com if you want to come to the beach with us, or to tell us how your aguachile turned out!

Dan and Omar

Early in the morning, Omar does the traditional "Happy Piglet Dance" before our trip.  (Actually, he was washing the car).

Early in the morning, Omar does the traditional "Happy Piglet Dance" before our trip. (Actually, he was washing the car).

Coco waits for the FedEx truck with the swimsuit she ordered from Frederick's of Hollywood.  We tried to tell her we would buy her a suit at the beach, but she said they didn't lift and separate like they should.  She went without.

Coco waits for the FedEx truck with the swimsuit she ordered from Frederick's of Hollywood. We tried to tell her we would buy her a suit at the beach, but she said they didn't lift and separate like they should. She went without.

A challenge to travel light with a baby.  Ceci, Pablo and Tere in the back. the blue umbrella just inside the door, the crib behind the back seat, and my knapsack to squish down between my feet.  Coco stays on my lap, or climbs in back to sleep on Aunt Ceci.  We had to go slow over the speed bumps.

A challenge to travel light with a baby. Ceci, Pablo and Tere in the back. the blue umbrella just inside the door, the crib behind the back seat, and my knapsack to squish down between my feet. Coco stays on my lap, or climbs in back to sleep on Aunt Ceci. We had to go slow over the speed bumps.

We always stop for a break just the other side of the Ceboruco Volcano.  Here you can see black volcanic flow through the trees.  We heard several tzinzontles, birds whose call sounds like bells and is impossible to mimic.  They catch them and sell them as pets--double bad news because their diet is a little difficult to provide--plantains mashed with dried flies.  You can actually buy dried flies in the market.  If you see them, now you know what they are for.

We always stop for a break just the other side of the Ceboruco Volcano. Here you can see black volcanic flow through the trees. We heard several tzinzontles, birds whose call sounds like bells and is impossible to mimic. They catch them and sell them as pets--double bad news because their diet is a little difficult to provide--plantains mashed with dried flies. You can actually buy dried flies in the market. If you see them, now you know what they are for.

Tere makes like a tzinzontle.

Tere makes like a tzinzontle.

In Los Ayala we awoke early the next morning, and walked along the beach to see what the fishermen had caught.  The shrimp looked great.  Here Omar is peeling a shrimp.  You can generally remove the black 'veins' by grabbing them and carefully tugging.  They should pull right out.  And if they don't, it doesn't matter--removing them is just for the esthetics.

In Los Ayala we awoke early the next morning, and walked along the beach to see what the fishermen had caught. The shrimp looked great. Here Omar is peeling a shrimp. You can generally remove the black 'veins' by grabbing them and carefully tugging. They should pull right out. And if they don't, it doesn't matter--removing them is just for the esthetics.

Nude chefs.  I've always wanted to say that, to see how much our Google ratings will go up.  I suppose 'Paris Hilton's Nude Chef' would probably get more hits, but I'll be darned if I can imagine her in Guayabitos.

Nude chefs. I've always wanted to say that, to see how much our Google ratings will go up. I suppose 'Paris Hilton's Nude Chef' would probably get more hits, but I'll be darned if I can imagine her in Guayabitos.

Peeled uncooked shrimp are quartered--these are for the aguachile.

Peeled uncooked shrimp are quartered--these are for the aguachile.

The quartered shrimp are placed in fresh lime juice to cover.

The quartered shrimp are placed in fresh lime juice to cover.

They are then mixed with diced cucumber, drops of Worcester sauce, and thin sliced serrano pepper.  It should be cool and refreshing, and fiery hot from the chiles.  You can see that the shrimp have gone from translucent and grey to opaque white and pink.  The lime juice 'cooks' the shrimp, the same as in ceviche.  It is healthy and delicious.

They are then mixed with diced cucumber, drops of Worcester sauce, and thin sliced serrano pepper. It should be cool and refreshing, and fiery hot from the chiles. You can see that the shrimp have gone from translucent and grey to opaque white and pink. The lime juice 'cooks' the shrimp, the same as in ceviche. It is healthy and delicious.

A good splash of fine quality extra virgin olive oil.

A good splash of fine quality extra virgin olive oil.

Omar adds salt.  We use rough sea salt from Guayabitos.  Folks who think all salt is the same just haven't lived.

Omar adds salt. We use rough sea salt from Guayabitos. Folks who think all salt is the same just haven't lived.

A grind of black pepper on top.  This is the most refreshing summer dish you can imagine.  You can probably make it with less chile if you want, but don't tell us about it.

A grind of black pepper on top. This is the most refreshing summer dish you can imagine. You can probably make it with less chile if you want, but don't tell us about it.

A quick toss, and we're ready to eat.  Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.

A quick toss, and we're ready to eat. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best.

Scooped onto a tostado, aguachile is one of our favorite ways to prepare fresh shrimp.

Scooped onto a tostado, aguachile is one of our favorite ways to prepare fresh shrimp.

More naked chefs (hope Jaime Oliver doesn't mind).  Pablo chops onions.

More naked chefs (hope Jaime Oliver doesn't mind). Pablo chops onions.

Chopped tomato--we almost always use jitomate saladet--plum tomatoes.  Jitomates bola--garden variety tomatoes--are used for slicing in salads or on hambugers.

Chopped tomato--we almost always use jitomate saladet--plum tomatoes. Jitomates bola--garden variety tomatoes--are used for slicing in salads or on hambugers.

Chopped tomato--we almost always use jitomate saladet--plum tomatoes.  Jitomates bola--garden variety tomatoes--are used for slicing in salads or on hambugers.

Chopped tomato--we almost always use jitomate saladet--plum tomatoes. Jitomates bola--garden variety tomatoes--are used for slicing in salads or on hambugers.

The shrimp stock is saved and cooled as well.

The shrimp stock is saved and cooled as well.

The stock is enriched with tomato sauce.

The stock is enriched with tomato sauce.

Ceci peels the shrimp.

Ceci peels the shrimp.

And the secret ingredient.  We make our own ricotta and marshmallows and mayonaise so it is a little hard to cop too, but ketchup adds just the right touch to the broth.

And the secret ingredient. We make our own ricotta and marshmallows and mayonaise so it is a little hard to cop too, but ketchup adds just the right touch to the broth.

Just a healthy squirt.  You still want the broth to be liquidy and not too thick.

Just a healthy squirt. You still want the broth to be liquidy and not too thick.

Shrimp goes into serving glasses.  We didn't have the goblet-like chabelas they traditionally use.  A healthy helping of minced onion goes on top the shrimp.

Shrimp goes into serving glasses. We didn't have the goblet-like chabelas they traditionally use. A healthy helping of minced onion goes on top the shrimp.

Then the diced tomato.

Then the diced tomato.

A little cilantro.  Cilantro is basic to Mexican cooking--it is sold everywhere and is found in a wide variety of dishes.  I didn't like it at first.  I thought it tasted like aluminum.  But tastes change, and now I can't get enough of it.

A little cilantro. Cilantro is basic to Mexican cooking--it is sold everywhere and is found in a wide variety of dishes. I didn't like it at first. I thought it tasted like aluminum. But tastes change, and now I can't get enough of it.

Next comes a goodly portion of avocado.  Avocado adds a welcome smooth richness to salads and sandwiches--and even ice cream!

Next comes a goodly portion of avocado. Avocado adds a welcome smooth richness to salads and sandwiches--and even ice cream!

The shrimp stock is spooned over the top, to fill the glass.

The shrimp stock is spooned over the top, to fill the glass.

A Mexican shrimp cocktail.  To eat you use your spoon to mix all the flavors together, and then go to town.  Fresh and delicious--and very different from the ketchup/horseradish cocktails most of us are used to.  We used just shrimp, but these cocktails often incorporate octopus (very yummy), scallops, oysters, and other seafoods.  They are so refreshing that one cocktail which contains every seafood imaginable is called "Return to Life."  Must be good for hangovers.

A Mexican shrimp cocktail. To eat you use your spoon to mix all the flavors together, and then go to town. Fresh and delicious--and very different from the ketchup/horseradish cocktails most of us are used to. We used just shrimp, but these cocktails often incorporate octopus (very yummy), scallops, oysters, and other seafoods. They are so refreshing that one cocktail which contains every seafood imaginable is called "Return to Life." Must be good for hangovers.

Sayulita.  Amazing how the feel of a place can change just a few miles down the beach.  Sayulita is very international and attractive.

Sayulita. Amazing how the feel of a place can change just a few miles down the beach. Sayulita is very international and attractive.

Some of the seaside houses are really amazing.  Here beach vendors sell jewelry, hammocks, and fake tatoos.  In Los Ayala they sell fruit and grilled shrimp to a more family-oriented, Mexican crowd.  Ceci and Pablo felt uncomfortable in Sayulita, because the Mexicans were waiters and gardeners and foreigners own the big houses.

Some of the seaside houses are really amazing. Here beach vendors sell jewelry, hammocks, and fake tatoos. In Los Ayala they sell fruit and grilled shrimp to a more family-oriented, Mexican crowd. Ceci and Pablo felt uncomfortable in Sayulita, because the Mexicans were waiters and gardeners and foreigners own the big houses.

Even the beach furniture is fancier here.  No white plastic chairs to be seen.

Even the beach furniture is fancier here. No white plastic chairs to be seen.

Jewelry for sale.

Jewelry for sale.

Coco and I, being foodies, bought a gorgeous wooden spoon.  Omar liked it so much he went back and bought a small wooden sauce spoon and a spatula.  You never know what you are going to find in Mexico.

Coco and I, being foodies, bought a gorgeous wooden spoon. Omar liked it so much he went back and bought a small wooden sauce spoon and a spatula. You never know what you are going to find in Mexico.

The clean and colorful town.  We want to go back and explore Sayulita more.

The clean and colorful town. We want to go back and explore Sayulita more.

Like mountains, waves always photograph flat for me.  They were much more impressive when we were tumbling around inside them.

Like mountains, waves always photograph flat for me. They were much more impressive when we were tumbling around inside them.

Lots of people were out surfing.

Lots of people were out surfing.

We'll certainly be back to Sayulita!

We'll certainly be back to Sayulita!

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1 comment to Fresh Mexican Shrimp Cocktails in Guayabitos and Sayulita

  • Thanks that was a great read. I can’t believe it myself, but my wife and I will have been married 10 years next week. We met in Italy, and had some amazing shrimp salad in this little restaurant in Rome. I’ve been scouring the net for a good recipe to see if I can make some myself, and I even found a whole shrimp salad recipes website dedicated to them! Thought you might like to know, you can find anything on the net nowadays it seems!

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Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

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