Saturday, 31 December 2011

A New Year's Eve Treat

When I was finally allowed to stay up till midnight as a child (to be fair, my parents were fairly indulgent, I was only about 8 or 9!) this was one of the treats I looked forward to. Mom would always serve it alongside the sparkling wine or champagne we drank to toast the New Year. 

It's a classic shrimp cocktail, a a great recipe to add to your repertoire, whenever you want to serve it. It’s shrimp cocktail as it was served in the 1950’s and is often still served today - cold shrimp a sharp contrast to the bright spicy sauce they were topped with, laying on a super crisp bed of shredded iceberg lettuce. 
In England, shrimp are usually called ‘prawns’ and they are usually served with a Marie Rose dressing - a blend of ketchup or tomato sauce and mayonnaise, or sometimes even with thousand island dressing. Prawn cocktail was the fashionable starter of the 1980‘s here. By the end of that decade most folks were fed up with it and it experienced a huge fall from grace, along with that staple 1980’s dessert Black Forest Gateau. It’s certainly more fashionable now, but I think if folks could taste this sauce instead of the traditional mild Marie Rose version, even more people would be embracing this charming retro dish.
This makes a wonderful starter, or a real treat for lunch - if you are making lunch for one you can keep any extra sauce in the fridge for a couple of days. Thawing a handful of frozen shrimp or treating yourself to some fresh cooked shrimp from the grocery store can take an ordinary lunch and elevate it to the extraordinary. 
The sauce also makes a great dip, and I often serve a plate of large shrimp round a dish of it at parties. The dish is always empty in minutes.
Shrimp Cocktail
1 handful of shredded iceberg lettuce per person
1 handful of small frozen shrimp per person, thawed
For each serving, place the shredded lettuce in a pretty dish or on a nice plate. Top with the shrimp.
To make the sauce:
½ cup ketchup
1 to 2 tablespoons mild creamy horseradish (You may need a bit less than this depending on how hot your horseradish is.)
½ teaspoon lemon juice (fresh if possible)
Place the ketchup in a bowl and add about 1 tablespoon of the horseradish along with the lemon juice. Stir to mix. Taste, adding a bit more horseradish if you feel the mixture needs it. 
Top the shrimp with the sauce and serve very cold.

At midnight tonight my family and I will be enjoying this classic family treat alongside a glass of champagne (followed by a piece of cake!)

However you plan to celebrate New Year’s Eve, I wish you and yours a Happy, Prosperous and Healthy New Year full of blessings and joy. 


  1. My mom used to serve shrimp cocktail, too. It's one of those fun dishes that I always associate with being home. Happy New Year, April!!


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