Written by adam on Feb 18, 2005
For an appetizer that should be so simple, there are some really, really bad shrimp cocktails out there. The prepared frozen ones you find in the grocery store may look pretty with the shrimp neatly arranged in a ring, but they are tasteless, rubbery and overcooked, and the sauce is bland. Making them at home using bags of cooked frozen shrimp is just as bad. The number one rule is to start with fresh, uncooked shrimp, or if you are forced to use frozen crustaceans, at least buy the ones that are uncooked. As for the sauce, you can buy bottles of cocktail sauce at the grocery, but these are relatively bland and don't allow for your personal preferences. You can make your own, starting with a ketchup base.
About the Shrimps I prefer medium or large Gulf shrimps; the jumbos and Tiger prawns don't seem to have as much flavor. Peel and de-vein shrimps, setting aside the shells to use in the boil. If you can leave the tail on, they're easier to handle when dipping in sauce. Rinse thoroughly. Allow 6-12 shrimps per person if you're using this as an appetizer.
For the Shrimp Boil:
- If desired, start with a shrimp/crab boil (such as Old Bay or Zattarains)
- Two or three cloves of garlic, peeled & quartered
- One whole lemon or lime, quartered
- A few whole cloves
- The reserved shrimp shells
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
Use a pot large enough so the shrimps aren't crowded. To the water, add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a full boil, reduce heat and simmer at least 15-20 minutes. Remove shrimp shells with a slotted spoon. Discard.
Add the raw shrimp, return to a boil
Cooking time isn't usually more than 2-3 minutes
If you overcook, the shrimp will be tough and rubbery. Do Not Overcook
Drain and pick out the cloves & other chunks, and immediately place shrimp on ice. Allow to chill slightly before eating. Did I mention not to overcook the shrimps?
For the Cocktail Sauce
- Ketchup (likely a 1/2 cup to a cup)
- Juice of half a lemon or lime
- A dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
- A dash of prepared mustard (the yellow kind in a jar is fine)
- Course ground black pepper to taste
- Horseradish to taste
All ingredients are approximate. Adjust to your taste and quantity required. Add all ingredients in a bowl and stir with a fork until mixed.
Note about Horseradish Use a good quality product that is pure grated horseradish. The creamy prepared kind won�t do. My favorite brand is Schnitzius, available in the refrigerated section of the grocery. If it's in a bottle, at room temp, on a shelf with other condiments, avoid it. If you don't like horseradish in your ketchup, then you're a double girly-man. If you really want to put hair on your chest, add wasabi.
Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Responses to "Shrimp Cocktail" ...
ketchup ... catsup ... let's call the whole thing off.
My Great-Uncle taught me how to make cocktail sauce "like real firemen do." (He was a firefighter.) It was basically ketchup and horseradish, but MAN, was it hot.