I am a sucker for a good shrimp cocktail. I also, would admit that I can be a bit of a shrimp cocktail snob. Shrimps are a touchy thing. You can buy them all cooked and chilled. You can buy them cooked and frozen, aka thaw and serve. You can buy fresh shrimp. Or you can buy frozen fresh shrimp. Most people can be a little fearful of making them from fresh shrimp. After today, you will be very comfortable making them from fresh or fresh frozen thawed shrimp. Its nothing to be afraid of. Until you have them from fresh you really can’t know what a good shrimp cocktail is. The ones you buy in a ring, all cooked, are usually very small, salty and soggy. YUCK! The ones that you thaw and cook have a totally different taste and texture and they are phenomenal if they are cooked properly. Never peel the shells off before cooking, it will make the shrimp rubbery and dry.
Shrimps are measured by count. They will say U31-35 count, U26-30 count, U 16/25, U13-15 count, or U12, U8, U4 and many more. The smaller the number the bigger the shrimp. To me anything smaller than a 26 count shrimp is not for shrimp cocktails. It goes like this, U mean Unit and the number means how many per pound. So, if you buy U13-15, this is 13 to 15 shrimp to a pound and so on. This is a perfect shrimp for shrimp cocktail and my shrimp of choice.
They also cook very quickly. Your water needs to be boiling, and you need a bowl of ice and water to submerge them into after they are cooked to stop the cooking. Depending on the size shrimp you are cooking they take between 2-4 minutes, literally. The perfect cocktail shrimp 13/15 and 16/25 are going to take exactly 3 minutes. But it is all based on your shrimp size. Once they begin to curl and firm up and are no longer opaque in color, they need to be pulled and quickly iced. Transfer to an ice bath to chill and then they can be peeled and cleaned within minutes. Cleaning is simply slicing open the rounded side of the shrimp and pulling out the dark vein. The whole process from a thawed shrimp to the finished product is like 15 minutes. You will taste the difference and never go back to those other soggy and salty shrimp.
6 qt pot of boiling water 2/3 full of water
6 qt bowl of ice and water
16 shrimps size 16/25 per pound or bigger
1 c. ketchup
1 tbsp horseradish
pretty dish for serving
transfer immediately to ice bath
let chill for 5 minutes
peel and clean
mix together the ketchup and horseradish and a squeeze of lemon, stir and place in a martini glass.
Using a pretty platter or dish, place the glass in the middle with your dipping sauce in it. Line the dish with frilly lettuce, shredded lettuce or kale, whatever you want,
Arrange the shrimp around the dipping sauce and chill until ready to serve. Hang a few shrimp on the glass for more or a dramatic presentation. Shrimps should be well chilled when served. Enjoy!