The Secrets to Making the Best Shrimp Cocktail

fresh shrimp - CT wholesale fish marketIf you’re like most people, you’ve had some good shrimp cocktails and some so-so shrimp cocktails.  Most are hardly memorable.  But if you’ve ever had a shrimp cocktail that knocks your socks off, you’ve probably never forgotten it.  Well, that’s what we have here – a truly memorable shrimp cocktail recipe that not only tastes great but is surprisingly easy to prepare.  First, here’s what you’ll need to serve 4:

24 large fresh shrimp, raw, easy-peel, de-veined – aim for 20-25 individual shrimp in a pound

6-10 peppercorns

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup parsley

1/2 medium lemon

1/2 tsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. horseradish

1 cup ketchup

1/2 tsp. Tabasco (or other similar) sauce

1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

How to prepare

  1. Into a large saucepan about 3/4 full of water, add the squeezed juice from the lemon and the remainder of the lemon itself, parsley, salt and peppercorns. Bring to boil then remove from heat.
  2. Add the shrimp right away and let sit, covered, until shrimp are pink (usually about 5 minutes.) While the shrimp cook, add two cups of ice cubes to a large bowl and fill it about halfway with cold water.
  3. Remove only the cooked shrimp from the saucepan and put them in the ice bath for a few minutes. Then peel the shrimp, leaving the tails in place.
  4. Combine in a bowl the ketchup, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, horseradish and a pinch of salt. Stir well, then pour into four serving containers such as wine glasses or other similar containers. (You can chill the sauce before serving.)
  5. Hang the shrimp around the rims of the containers and serve right away.

Tips and pointers

The keys to making a great shrimp cocktail are using your favorite shrimp, and creating an awesome sauce from scratch with fresh ingredients.

As for the sauce, the ingredients we suggested here are just that – suggestions.  They are, however, all considered “standard” ingredients in a proper cocktail sauce.  But like with any recipe, you’re free to adjust the amounts of the ingredients and the ingredients themselves.

shrimp cocktail - Central CT Fresh Fish MarketAn area that many home cooks adjust is the heat.  If you’re crazy about a super-spicy shrimp cocktail sauce, you might want to add some extra horseradish and Tabasco.  You can even sparingly throw in some crushed or powdered cayenne pepper.  On the other hand, if your palate is on the sensitive side, you might opt to exchange the horseradish sauce for mayonnaise and eliminate the hot sauce altogether.

In any shrimp cocktail recipe, the shrimp is at center stage.  In order to produce shrimp that’s succulent and tender, correct cooking times and methods are crucial.  Overcooked shrimp are tough and heading toward tasteless; undercooked shrimp are something you never want your guests to bite into.

If you’re looking for the freshest, tastiest shrimp for your shrimp cocktail – or any other kind of delicious seafood – stop in at City Fish Market at 884 Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield, CT.  We’re Connecticut’s seafood experts, and we’re always ready to help with your next recipe or full-on culinary project.  Reach us by phone at (860) 522-3129.

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