Shrimp Vuelve a la Vida

This is the recipe we make at our restaurant Ensenada, which is very close to my heart. It’s the perfect marriage between the style of seafood cocktail I grew up eating on the coasts of my home country, Venezuela, and what I’ve tried in the Northern Baja region in Mexico, more specifically in Ensenada. The Venezuelan version is also known as rompe colchones or siete potencias, literally “mattress breaker” or “seven potencies,” in reference to its aphrodisiac properties. Along the Caribbean coast we find this vuelve to be a little thicker and more ketchup-y, whereas the Mexican Baja style is usually a little less sweet and more watered down with a stronger kick of lime juice. Vuelve a la vida translates to “come back to life,” so naturally it’s a great cocktail to make on a hot summer day after a night of heavy drinking. —Luis Herrera

All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.


4 servings


medium red onion


garlic cloves, 2 smashed, 1 finely grated


Tbsp. black peppercorns


Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more


lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined


plum tomato, coarsely chopped


cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems


cup fresh lime juice (from about 8 limes)


cup ketchup


Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. distilled white vinegar


Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Tabasco


Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce


tsp. Aji-No-Moto umami seasoning (MSG; optional)


tsp. sugar


large ripe avocado, thinly sliced

Cilantro leaves with tender stems, saltine crackers or corn tostadas, and lime wedges (for serving)


Step 1

Cut 1 medium red onion in half through root end; set 1 half aside. Cut other half in half again (so you have 2 quarters). Coarsely chop 1 onion quarter and thinly slice the other quarter; set aside separately.

Step 2

Combine 2 smashed garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns, and reserved red onion half in a large saucepan. Pour in 10 cups water and season generously with kosher salt (water should taste briny, like the ocean). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.

Step 3

Return liquid to a boil. Add 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cook until bright pink and cooked through, about 1½ minutes. Using a slotted spoon, immediately transfer shrimp to a large bowl of ice water and let cool 2 minutes; drain and pat dry. Slice shrimp in half lengthwise and transfer to a plate. Chill while you prepare the sauce.

Step 4

Pulse 1 plum tomato, coarsely chopped, ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems, and reserved chopped red onion in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in 1 cup fresh lime juice, 1 cup ketchup, 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. distilled white vinegar, 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Tabasco, 1 Tbsp. Diamond Crystal or 1¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp. Aji-No-Moto umami seasoning (if using), 2 tsp. sugar, and 2 cups cold water until combined. Add shrimp; toss to coat.

Step 5

Divide shrimp and sauce among shallow bowls. Top with 1 large ripe avocado, thinly sliced, dividing evenly, and reserved sliced red onion. Scatter cilantro leaves with tender stems over. Serve with saltine crackers or corn tostadas and lime wedges alongside.