A classic Christmas appetiser is a prawn cocktail! Jumbo prawns are dipped in a tart, vivid-red cocktail sauce after being chilled and given a sprinkle of freshly squeezed lemon. What could be more joyful than that?
SHRIMP COCKTAIL IS A CLASSIC HOLIDAY APPETISER
Yes, it is simple to purchase a prepared prawn cocktail dish at the grocery store. But let me tell you, this homemade version is incredibly simple to make and delicious. Poaching shrimp, making my extra tasty shrimp cocktail sauce, and arranging everything on a serving platter are all straightforward steps.
Bonus: It can be prepared a day in advance, which is good news for anyone who is stressed out over arranging the menu for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Make this prawn cocktail recipe this holiday season as a favour to yourself. It's sure to be a hit and will make you appear like a brilliant chef.
INGREDIENTS OF SHRIMP COCKTAIL
Except if you make a poaching liquid with additional flavorings like garlic, peppercorns, or herbs, the prawns don't require much. Then all you need to do is whip up a quick cocktail sauce, It contains the following.
- Jumbo Shrimp: Since this is a shrimp-heavy appetiser, I always choose to purchase fresh, raw shrimp from my neighborhood fishmonger in the morning of the previous day. But fear not, frozen can also be used.
- Lemons: You'll need a few lemons because they'll all be used in different recipes (such as cocktail sauce, poaching liquid, and serving).
- Use your preferred brand of tomato sauce for the ketchup, which serves as the foundation for the cocktail sauce.
- Prepared Horseradish - Rather than using horseradish sauce, be sure to use prepared horseradish. There is a distinction.
- Only two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce are needed to get a whiff of umami flavour. Check the ingredient list if you're gluten-free, like I am.
- Hot Sauce: I like to use Tabasco to provide a spicy touch. However, any hot sauce will do.
FRESH VS FROZEN SHRIMP
In this dish, giant prawns can be used fresh or frozen. Here are some considerations for buying either.
- Ask your fishmonger where the fresh prawns come from if you're purchasing them from a seaside region. Fish that has been frozen and then thawed or that has been sitting on ice for a long time should not be consumed. They must be the day's "fresh" catches.
- Grab a bag of frozen prawns for added convenience, especially if you don't live near the coast. Any enormous prawn will do. Just make sure the prawns are tail-off and deveined according to the packaging. I also advise purchasing wild fish.
HOW TO MAKE SHRIMP COCKTAIL
You will simply need to boil the prawns in a poaching liquid. And it just requires three minutes! So make sure to set your timer to avoid overcooking the prawns.
The sauce must then be combined in a separate bowl before everything can be put on a plate. Quite straightforward for a fancy appetiser.
The prawn is poached. Salt and water should be added to a big pot. Add the lemon halves and juice from one lemon to the water. See the note below for more suggestions on liquid poaching. The poaching liquid is heated until it boils, then it is simmered. When the prawns are pink and firm, add them and poach for 2 ½ to 3 minutes.
Cool the prawns after draining. The prawns should stop smoking after being drained in a colander and given some time to cool. After that, put them in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill.
Construct the cocktail sauce. Combine the ketchup, prepared horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and spicy sauce in a small bowl.
Pour onto a dish. On a sizable platter, arrange the prawns on the rocks with the cocktail sauce and extra lemon wedges. Alternatively, you could put prawns around the rim of a smaller glass and serve the sauce in that.
Tips for the poaching liquid: Always add salt and lemon to the base of the poaching liquid. However, if you want to give the shrimp a little more flavor, you can also add whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, halved onions, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and fresh herbs.
STORAGE AND MAKE-AHEAD TIPS
- To Store: For three to four days, leftover prawns or cocktail sauce can be kept in the fridge in an airtight container.
- Make-Ahead: Yes, you can prepare the entirety of this recipe a day in advance. Simply keep the cocktail sauce and prawns in separate containers in the refrigerator. Then, just before serving, put everything together on a plate over ice.
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 lemon, halved
- Optional: flavor-boosters for poaching liquid, such as garlic, ginger, onion, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and fresh herbs.
- 2 pounds jumbo shrimp, (tail-on and deveined)
- extra lemon wedges for serving
FOR THE COCKTAIL SAUCE
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoons hot sauce (like Tabasco), or more to taste
- Poach the shrimp. Fill a large pot with water and salt. Squeeze the juice of one lemon and add the lemon halves into the water. Optional: add aromatics to the poaching liquid (see ideas above). Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to simmer. Add the shrimp and let them poach for 2 ½ to 3 minutes, or until they're pink and firm.
- Drain and chill the shrimp. Drain the shrimp in a colander, let cool for a few minutes, then place in the fridge to cool completely.
- Make the cocktail sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
- Serve on a platter. Serve the shrimp over ice on a large platter, along with the cocktail sauce and extra lemon wedges.
- For many shrimp recipes you typically cool the shrimp quickly in an ice water bath. But if you do that for this recipe you’ll remove much of the extra flavor from the poaching liquid. So just drain and then chill!
- If you’re serving this up in individual glasses, you’ll likely need to double or triple the cocktail sauce recipe, as the individual glasses need a bit more sauce to look full.