The canyons of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico are hundreds of miles from the coast and the last place you would expect to find great seafood, but the wealthy owners of the local mines always had great seafood flown in with visitors, and recipes like this prawn cocktail became staples of the local restaurants. This dish is traditionally eaten the morning after a fiesta as a pick-me-up. Its fresh flavours and prawns are seasoned with the extraordinary flavour of arí, a gum produced by ants.
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 5 pequin chillies
- 1 tsp ant gum (see Note)
- 150 ml prawn stock
- 100 ml tomato juice
- salt, to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 50 g cooked octopus, chopped
- 50 g cooked calamari, chopped
- ½ cup peeled, diced short cucumber
- ¼ cup diced tomato
- 1 tbsp diced jalapeño chilli
- 2 tbsp chopped red onion
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander, plus 1 tsp extra
- 1 tbsp chopped spring onion, plus 1 tsp extra
- 120 g poached peeled prawns
- ½ lime, juiced
- ½ avocado, peeled and sliced
- 20 g water crackers
- 10 g lightly salted corn chips
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the garlic, pequin chillies and ant gum in the base of a large mortar and pestle and crush to a fine paste. Add the prawn stock and tomato juice, season with salt and pepper, and mix through. If you are making multiple portions or want to serve the cocktail in another bowl, transfer the mixture into serving dishes at this point.
Add the ingredients in the following order, distributing them gently around the bowl for presentation: first octopus, then calamari, cucumber, tomato, jalapeño chilli, red onion, chopped coriander and finally chopped spring onion.
Arrange the prawns on top of the dish then dress with the lime juice. Arrange the avocado around the plate, then garnish with the extra coriander and spring onion. Serve with water crackers and corn chips.
• Ant gum’s unusual flavour is deeply savoury and can be replaced by ¼ tsp roasted shrimp paste to achieve a similar seasoning.