Coctel a la Campechana


award winning seafood cocktailAuthor: Chef de Cuisine Gary Johnson of Joe’s Nuevo Latino

Prep Time: 4 hours, plus 6 hours or more to freeze granita

Number of Servings: 12


  • 2 c. shallots, minced
  • 1 c. Fresno chiles, minced
  • 1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
  • 2 lb. steamed Manila clams, shucked
    (reserve juice for tomato water)
  • 2 lb. sliced braised abalone
  • 12 pickled oysters
  • 1 qt. tomato water
  • 1 qt. oyster-pickling juice
  • 6 c. celery cucumber granita
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lime juice to taste
  • 2 bags store-bought shrimp chips

Celery Cucumber Granita

  • 1 celery bunch, cleaned & diced
  • 4 English cucumbers, cleaned & diced
  • 1/4 c. simple syrup
  • salt to taste
  • water as needed to blend

Tomato Water

  • 6 vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 1 c. clam juice (reserved from steamed clams) or water
  • salt to taste

Chipotle-braised Abalone

  • 2 lb. abalone, shucked and cleaned
  • 1 12-oz. can chipotle en adobo
  • 3 qt. shellfish stock or water
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • canola oil as needed
  • salt to taste

Pickled Oysters

  • 12 Kusshi oysters (or other oyster of your choice), shucked, liquor reserved
  • 2 c. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 qt. water
  • 3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar


Mix tomato water and oyster-pickling juice together. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Reserve. Mix clams, sliced abalone, pickled oysters, shallots, chiles and cilantro together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide tomato-oyster water among 12 large cocktail glasses or goblets, filling 1/3 of glass. Pour tomato-oyster water over seafood mixture until covered. Stir gently, then fill glass ⅓ with seafood mixture. Top with 1/3 c. celery granita. Serve with a side shrimp chips.

Celery Cucumber Granita: Blend all ingredients together in a Vitamix or blender. Let mixture sit at least 1 hour to allow flavors to meld. Strain through a fine metal sieve to remove all pulp and fibers. Pour into a shallow pan and freeze overnight. After mixture is completely frozen, use fork tines to shave the flavored ice for granita.

Tomato Water: Blend tomatoes and clam juice. Over a container, pour mixture into a cheesecloth-lined, fine metal sieve. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator up to 24 hours. Season with salt.

Pickled Oysters: In a small pot, heat salt, sugar, peppercorns, thyme, sherry vinegar and water to boiling. Remove from heat and chill, then strain out peppercorns and thyme, and pour mixture over oysters. Stir in oyster liquor and lime juice and marinate about 3 hours, until oysters’ edges begin to turn white. Drain the oysters, saving the pickling juices in a separate container. Keep well chilled until you begin to assemble the coctels.


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