It would be hard to wean any British person off prawn cocktail made with Marie Rose sauce (mayonnaise and tomato ketchup), but this is pretty special. Naturally it's quite spicy and smoky from the chipotle chilli but, as is so often the case in Mexico, the creamy element that I crave is supplied by ripe avocados. This dish comes from a rugged seafood restaurant called El Camello in the town of Tulum.
375g medium prawns, cooked, peeled and deveined
2 avocados, stoned, peeled and diced, then tossed in lime juice to prevent browning
2 tomatoes, chopped
Small handful of coriander, chopped
1 Little Gem lettuce, shredded
Lime wedges and totopos (see below) to serve
For the sauce 275ml tomato juice
4tbs extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 large lime
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ red onion, roughly chopped
2tsp chilli sauce
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 heaped tbs chipotles en adobo (see below)
8 turns of black peppermill
6-8 15cm corn tortillas, each cut into six wedges
1 litre corn or vegetable oil
Heat the oil to 190°C in a large pan and cook the tortilla triangles in small batches until barely golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt. Serve as soon as possible.
Chipotles en adobo (Makes enough for a 370g jar)
8 chipotle chillies
3 large, ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
60ml cider vinegar
2tsp brown sugar
Wash the chillies and remove the hard stems, but leave the seeds in place. Put the chillies in a bowl with 150ml of just-boiled water and cover with cling film. Leave the chillies to soak in the water for about 20 minutes.
Put three of the soaked chipotles in a food processor or blender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, salt, the soaking liquid and the sugar, then process to make a smooth paste.
Tip this paste into a pan and add the remaining whole soaked chipotles. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the chipotles for about an hour. Check them every 20-30 minutes and add a little more boiling water if needed. Leave to cool slightly, then pour into a sterilised glass jar. Cool completely and store in the fridge for up to a month.
To make the sauce, put the tomato juice, oil, lime juice, garlic, onion, chilli sauce, Worcestershire sauce and chipotles en adobo in a blender or food processor. Season with salt and pepper, then blend until smooth. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the dish.
When you're ready to eat, mix the prawns with the sauce, diced avocado, tomatoes and three-quarters of the coriander. Divide the shredded lettuce between four chilled cocktail or sundae glasses. Top with the prawn mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining coriander. Serve with lime wedges and the totopos on the side.
Recipe taken from Rick Stein: The Road to Mexico. Photography by James Murphy