Friday, January 08, 2010

prawn cocktails

Finally got the time and energy to catch up on a bit of blogging housework!

In November when I mused about making prawn cocktails I got an enthusiastic response. Zoe it turns out is an old hand at the PC, knocking them out en masse at family Christmases for as long as she can remember. Considering her experience I took on her words of advice, “iceberg should be shredded superfine”.

I kept it simple; this was partially because the perfectly selected avocado purchased a couple of days before Xmas went off in the hot weather preceding the day. The other reason to keep it on the easy side was the nasty virus that laid me low for the good part of 10 days.

I must have unintentionally tuned into the zeitgeist with the PC being cover girl for January’s Gourmet Traveller though I reckon my cocktail sauce would taste even better!

So to the recipe, if you can call it that. This is so basic that quantities are not included so you can adapt it to the number you need to produce.

New old-fashioned prawn cocktails

Iceberg lettuce, 2 leaves per person, finely sliced
Cooked prawns, shelled with tail on, 3-6 per person
Lemon wedges
Avocado, cut into a fan, 1/4 of a large avocado per person (optional and not for the traditionalists)

Cocktail sauce
Good quality mayonnaise (best if you make your own but Thomy was fine for the job and a lot easier)
Tomato ketchup
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper if desired

To make the sauce use about 3 parts of the best mayonnaise you can lay your hands on, to other ingredients. The next ingredient is ketchup, for a cup of mayo I used about 2 tablespoons. Stir well. Add a generous shake of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce and squeeze in some lemon. Taste it. Does it need more spice (I was surprised at how much Tabasco it took til I got the right balance)? I know this is a very imprecise ‘recipe’ but it’s all about flavour and the variety of your base mayo is going to affect the over all taste. The resulting sauce should be a browny-pink colour, have a discernable hint of tomato sauce without it dominating and a decent tang. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Assemble your cocktail. In a bowl or wide mouthed glass per person, start with a decent layer of shredded lettuce, then top with prawns and avocado fanned on the side (optional). Place some sauce on the cocktail or serve on the side in a jug. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley, in our house it had to be good old-fashioned curly parsley, not the modern flat leaf variety. Add a wedge of lemon affixed to the side of the serving glass or if you want to be ultra-fancy a whole prawn with its head still on.


On boxing day there was some cocktail sauce and leftover barbecued prawns in the fridge, begging out to be eaten. It became a great sandwich with the prawns sliced and tossed with the sauce, some finely sliced spring onions and parsley. Fantastic!

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Blogger Zoe said...

Even better as a sandwich, innit?

7:38 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

You betcha!

8:23 pm  
Anonymous Christian said...

The classic prawn cocktail, I remember doing about 600 of those for a function at a hotel when I was a commis chef,great to see people still love them!

9:00 am  
Blogger BwcaBrownie said...

Avocados are such a risk.
I read somewhere to err on the green side, then give them a minute in the Mwave to ripen instantly when needed.
It must be a nightmare making a living from growing them, or indeed any vegetables.
This weeks dreadful news about all the bananas which are wasted because they don't suit Safeway must make everybody promise to patronise only local individual fruiterers. (if you can find one).
Hope you survived the vile 44 degrees today.

8:25 pm  
Anonymous Rita II said...

I was also the prawn cocktail maker for many years at family Christmases back in old Blighty. I used to use the same ingredients for the sauce (and sometimes use a bit of plain yoghurt to extend it) and sample as I blended. But avocado? I don't think we had even heard of them then :)

1:14 pm  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Christian I don't think I'd could ever face a PC again if I had to make 600 of them in one go!

Brownie - oh don't get me started on avocadoes...don't have a microwave, so that option is out. At times I wished I lived further north so I could have avocado and mango trees.

Rita - I know, I didn't see an avocado til I was in my late teens. When i tasted it the first time my mother and I just looked at each other as if to say "I can't work out what the fuss is about". It wasn't til later I learnt about the alchemy of lemon and lime.

1:31 pm  

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