Published July 1, 1997.
Yes, you can make a better shrimp cocktail; all it takes is making a few easy adjustments.
The shrimp in shrimp cocktail can be ice-cold strings of protein, chewy or mushy, or they can be tender, flavorful morsels that barely need sauce. How could we guarantee the latter?
Nothing is more basic than shrimp cocktail, and, given its simplicity, few dishes are more difficult to improve. Yet we set out to do just that, seeing three ways in which we might challenge tradition: work on the flavor of the shrimp, work on the cooking method for the shrimp, and produce a great cocktail sauce.
Start with the best shrimp you can find and then give them as much flavor as they can handle without overwhelming them. To do so, cook the shrimp in a stock made from the shells (which hold a lot of flavor), wine, lemon juice, herbs, and spices. Our goal in cooking the shrimp was now to let them remain in the stock as long as possible without overcooking them. We met it by bringing the stock to a boil, adding the shrimp, and then taking the pot off the heat. The shrimp could then be left to "steep" for almost 10 minutes (when cooked in boiling water, their usual cooking time is only a couple of minutes). Finally, there was the cocktail sauce to consider. We suggest that you start with your favorite brand of ketchup, then combine with the classic additions of horseradish, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and chili powder. Fresh lemon juice is the finishing touch.list of recipes