I frequently say “mucho” to all my Spanish-speaking friends.
It means a lot to them.
I drove to Mexico for my final visit to my Mexican dentist. Last year, I went to my Palm Springs (Californee) dentist for an estimate on an implant. Dr. Yankenpull told me it would be around $6,00
I was thinking of robbing a convenience store to pay for it but realized that most convenience stores wouldn’t have that kind of money in the register.
So I started looking at non-criminal alternatives. I found a town in Mexico, right across the California border, that exists for one reason…
Inexpensive dental care.
The town is called Los Algodones, and I made my first trip down there a few months ago to check it out. I wasn’t sure what to expect. A guy in a poncho and sombrero with a pair of pliers and a bottle of tequila? A gal in a dirty apron with a vise-grip?
Well, most of the places in Los Algodones looked like regular American dentist offices, except a little smaller. After a stroll around town, I chose a dentist and had the implant done a few weeks later. It was quick and painless, and clean and comfortable, and cost about 60% less than Dr. Yankenpull’s estimate.
When I went back for the final visit recently, a female dentist walked into the room to do the procedure. She was maybe 30 years old and looked like a movie star. She was sure-handed and gentle and the process was almost enjoyable.
After she finished, I was walking back to my car, which was on a lot filled with other cars belonging to people who had come for inexpensive dental work, and I saw a guy who had a handmade sign that said “SHRIMP.”
I had bought shrimp before in Los Algodones, and they were fresh and pink and smelled like the sea. And this time, I looked inside the guy’s cooler and took a schniff. The shrimp looked beautiful. And they smelled like a day at the beach.
I don’t speak Spanish very well, but I think he said they had been caught that morning.
The cooler was pretty beat-up, and the chunks of ice inside were big and odd-shaped, like someone had just taken an icepick to a 100-pound block. But the shrimp looked and smelled so good.
Muy fresca! I bought 2 pounds. Ten bucks a pound.
The guy put them in a bag with some of the ice and I drove the two hours back to Palm Springs. On the way, I was wondering how I was gonna cook them. I was thinking maybe I’d get some breadcrumbs and parsley and bread the shrimp that way. Or maybe make some shrimp scampi with garlic and grape tomatoes. But I decided to simply steam them.
I just wanted to taste the shrimp. I didn’t want a whole lot of distracting ingredients masking the flavor. When you have a few really excellent ingredients, you don’t need much else.
Just like in music. All you need is a few great ingredients. That’s why so many of the great bands were trios. The Nat King Cole Trio, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Police. If you start with a couple excellent ingredients, you don’t need much else screwing with the mix.
Shrimp, Old Bay, and Beer. Now that’s a strong trio! Like Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Larry, Moe, and Curly.
I unpacked the shrimp, opened a beer, and pulled out the Old Bay.
Old Bay is a seasoning that’s indigenous to my hometown of Baltimore, Maryland. Bawlmer, Merlin is how we Baltimorons pronounce it. Old Bay is the spice we use when we make steamed crabs and steamed shrimp.
Lots of bars in Maryland serve steamed shrimp this way. You order a beer and a pound of shrimp, and they sprinkle them with Old Bay, and then steam them in beer and water and vinegar. Then you peel the shrimp, dip them in cocktail sauce, and have a swig of cold beer.
So I decided to steam my Mexican shrimp Baltimore style, with Old Bay. And I even created my own cocktail sauce! The whole process was quick and easy and simple, and the shrimp were delizioso. So was the cocktail sauce.
I might even go back to Los Algodones for a checkup, just to get some more shrimp!
I steamed the shrimp first and made the cocktail sauce after. The cocktail sauce took just a couple minutes to make, and it gave the shrimp a minute to cool off a bit.
Steam the shrimp in a large pot that has a tight cover. You’ll also need a steaming basket, so the shrimp aren’t sitting in the liquid.
Steam the shrimp with the shells on. That way they don’t get all rubbery. Sure, it’s a little messy, peeling shrimp with your bare hands, but they sure taste good!
For the shrimp:
2 pounds large shrimp, shell on
1 beer (12 ounces, NOT 48!)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
For the cocktail sauce:
½ cup ketchup
2 tablespoons horseradish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
HERE WE GO!
Put the shrimp on a large platter.
Get a large pot, turn the heat to high.
Add the beer, water, vinegar.
Add a tablespoon of Old Bay.
Put the steaming basket in.
When the liquid starts to boil, add one layer (1 pound) of shrimp to the basket.
Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of Old Bay on top of the shrimp.
Add a second layer (the 2nd pound) of shrimp to the basket, on top of the first layer.
Sprinkle another generous tablespoon of Old Bay on top of the shrimp.
Cover and steam for 3 minutes.
Uncover, and turn the shrimp over with tongs.
Cover and steam for another 3 minutes.
Pull the basket out of the pot, put the shrimp on a large platter.
Let’s make some cocktail sauce!
Get a small jar or a container with a lid.
Add the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.
Put the lid on and shake it, baby, shake it!
Grab a shrimp and remove the peel. Dip it in the sauce. Ole!
It’s mucho bueno, Slimmigos!