Citizens, I – the staunchly tyrannical TFD – believe that certain dishes should always remain in style. Shrimp cocktail is one of my all-time favorite appetizers, and to me it will always be a comfort food par excellence.
Prawn cocktail, also known as shrimp cocktail, is a seafood dish consisting of shelled, cooked, prawns in a cocktail sauce, served in a glass. It was the most popular hors d’œuvre in Great Britain from the 1960s to the late 1980s, and was likewise ubiquitous in the United States around this time. According to the English food writer Nigel Slater, the prawn cocktail “has spent most of (its life) see-sawing from the height of fashion to the laughably passé” and is now often served with a degree of irony.
A dish of cooked seafood with a piquant sauce of some kind is of ancient origin and many varieties exist. Oyster or shrimp dishes of this kind were popular in the United States in the late nineteenth century and some sources link the serving of the dish in cocktail glasses to the ban on alcoholic drinks during the 1920s prohibition era in the United States.
In the United Kingdom, the invention of the Prawn Cocktail is often credited to British television chef Fanny Cradock in the 1960s; however, it is more likely that Cradock merely popularized her version of an established dish that was not well known until then in Britain. In their 1997 book The Prawn Cocktail Years, Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham note that the prawn cocktail has a “direct lineage to Escoffier”.
The sauce is usually referred to as cocktail sauce, and is essentially ketchup plus mayonnaise in commonwealth countries, or ketchup and horseradish in the United States.
Citizens, my version of this classic involves a gentle poaching in a beer-flavored court bouillon and my own very, very special cocktail sauce – I have every confidence you will LOVE my take on the recipe! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo