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Shrimp Cocktail is so easy to make, it’s no wonder this classic appetizers popularity has never waned.
Shrimp Cocktail evokes memories of mom and dad and their fancy parties hosted at home. The ladies wore floor length dresses, and big hairdos – so 1960’s. The men drank their scotch and talked of mastering the world. Such fun! Jump forward to present time and a more casual way of entertaining. Thank goodness Shrimp Cocktail has not gone out of style! It’s such an easy appetizer and a great weekend dinner idea. Gather a few good friends, steam a big pot of shrimp and host a peel and eat party on your kitchen table. Serve the warm shrimp with lemon wedges, a little Old Bay, cold beer and plenty of cocktail sauce – you’re got yourself a party!
You don’t need fancy glasses to serve shrimp cocktail.
Shrimp Cocktail is a beautiful appetizer even when set on everyday plates with a large lettuce leaf. Serve with a cup of this delicious Cocktail sauce and you’ve got a wonderful starter perfect for just about any meal. If you want to serve Shrimp Cocktail in a more elegant way, try using a martini glass or anything with a long stem and a wide opening at the top. These lovely Shrimp Cocktail glasses were given to me by my great aunt. I know she used them all the time while entertaining. I doubt you can buy these new anymore but check eBay for a vintage set! These beautiful glasses can also be used for serving caviar. Probably not in my house however 🙂
Shrimp Cocktail sauce is so good, and this homemade version nails it!
Our easy Cocktail Sauce is thick and rich with plenty of zing from the horseradish. Check the seasonings and adjust to your own tastes. Maybe you prefer more horseradish, or less. It’s all good! This easy appetizer can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated until needed. Talk about easy entertaining! Get your retro-on and try this blast from the past. No need for fancy dresses to enjoy Shrimp Cocktail!
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Steam your shrimp! Don’t boil!
I use this steamer saucepan all the time at home. Made by Farberware, this Classic Stainless Steel 3-Quart Covered Stack ‘n’ Steam Saucepot and Steamer is great for cooking all your favorite foods. Click on the photo for more information.
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Shrimp Cocktail Recipe
For the steamed shrimp:
- 20 shell-on jumbo shrimp (about 2 pounds)
- 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
For the cocktail sauce:
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 ½ tablespoons prepared horseradish (more or less to taste)
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Lemons slices and parsley for serving
- Lettuce leaves for serving if desired
To prep the shrimp:
- It’s personal preference but I like to remove the dark vein, or intestinal track from larger shrimp. With kitchen shears cut through the meat and top shell along the back of the shrimp to expose the vein. Use a toothpick to pull the vein up, then remove and discard. Watch the video linked in the NOTES for a how-to technique. Leave the shells and tail on.
To steam the shrimp:
- If you don’t have a steamer pan, use a large mesh strainer set over a pot with a lid.
- Set a large bowl in the sink filled with cold water and ice. The cooked shrimp will be added to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process and quickly chill the cooked shrimp.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place half the shrimp in the steamer basket or strainer. Sprinkle shrimp with 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning and toss to coat. Place the shrimp over the boiling water, put the lid on the pot and steam the shrimp for 3 - 4 minutes. Toss the shrimp halfway through to move them around. The shrimp are done when slightly curled, pink and firm. Don’t overcook or you will have rubbery shrimp. Add the cooked shrimp to the ice water bath. Repeat by tossing the remaining uncooked shrimp with Old Bay and steaming until firm and pink. Add the shrimp to the ice water and allow to cool.
- Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Drain well, pat dry with paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the cocktail sauce:
- Combine the ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, Old Bay seasoning and lemon juice. Stir well, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- To serve on appetizer plates, line the plate with a small lettuce leaf. Arrange 5 shrimp over the lettuce. Add a small cup of Cocktail sauce for dipping and lemon wedges for drizzling.
- Click HERE to watch a VIDEO by The Spruce for an easy tutorial on how to devein shrimp.
- Cooked shrimp will keep well for several days if properly refrigerated.
Thanks so much for stopping by! Tricia
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