Shrimp Cocktail and Cocktail Sauce

by Emily Kemme
shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail is the food that gets invited to every party. Is it Game Day? Ramp up the heat in the cocktail sauce and cheer on your team while guests peel-and-eat their shrimp. Ladies luncheon or Mother’s Day brunch? Arrange pre-peeled shrimp in crystal stemware, cocktail sauce included. Black tie soiree? Mound poached shrimp atop a platter of shaved ice and serve with ice cold champagne. And shrimp cocktail is always the perfect starter for a romantic dinner for two. Serve with chilled white wine or shake up a couple of martinis.

In other words, in a world of unisex clothing, shrimp cocktail is the queen of your party.

But shrimp cocktail is not one size fits all. It’s best served large — I’d recommend going with 21-26 or 16-20 shrimp per pound. Unless you live near the coast (lucky you), buy the best quality frozen shrimp you can lay your hands on. Experiment with brands until you find the one you like. It’s all about taste, texture, and peel-ability. For that reason, go with easy-peel shrimp. If you follow these directions, you’ll end up with plump shrimp that’s firm and tasty.

Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

1 1/2 pounds frozen, easy peel shrimp (with peels on), defrosted according to package directions

1 tsp Kosher salt

juice of one lemon, with lemon reserved

12 black peppercorns

1 cup fresh parsley with stems

2 bay leaves

1 tsp celery seeds

Fill 3 quart saucepan with water, about 2/3 full

Add salt, lemon juice and reserved lemon, peppercorns, parsley, bay leaves, and celery seeds.

Bring to boil over high heat.

Lower heat to bare simmer and add shrimp. Cover pot and let poach in water bath for 4 minutes, or until shrimp is pink and there are no gray spots. The flesh should be bright white.

While shrimp is poaching, fill large bowl with ice about 2/3 up. Add water to make an ice water bath.

Remove poached shrimp from pot with slotted spoon and gently place in ice water bath. Chill for at least 15 minutes. Peel shrimp if desired, leaving tails intact.

Serve with Classic Cocktail Sauce.

Classic Cocktail Sauce Recipe

1 cup no-sugar ketchup

2 T hot horseradish (or medium, to taste)

juice of half a lemon

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Tabasco sauce (or other preferred hot sauce)

1/2 tsp Vodka (it’s a bit unusual, but the vodka creates some additional zing) (optional)

1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning

Mix ingredients and chill until ready to serve with Shrimp Cocktail. This classic cocktail sauce is also perfect with raw oysters.

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