Diced avocado can add a another layer of flavor to this delight. (Yvonne Duivenvoorden)
I’ve been a fan of shrimp cocktail for as long as I can remember, maybe because I first enjoyed this old-fashioned appetizer when I was 11 years old on my birthday. Perched on a bed of crushed ice, each shrimp looked beautiful to me. The horseradish-flecked rosy cocktail sauce seemed so fancy. For years later, ordering a shrimp cocktail meant I knew what was special on the menu.
I was so enamored of this dish that I tried to replicate it at home with canned bay shrimp and Heinz chili sauce (that was what was in my mom’s pantry). I made it for my friend from school and she still reminds me to this day that it was less than stellar. I have grown up a lot since those days and have prepared many renditions of this steak house favorite starter. My favorite technique by far is to roast the shrimp.
Often shrimp cocktails taste rubbery because the shrimp are boiled. Roasting shrimp makes all the difference. Dry high heat keeps the shrimp moist with a pleasing texture. The shallot-citrus coating adds robust flavor and brings out the shrimp’s inherent sweetness.
There are lots of choices for complementary sauces. I’m partial to this sauce. The sweet mango puree adds a bit of island flavor to zesty cocktail sauce. You could serve this with a mustard vinaigrette or Thousand Island dressing, if you prefer. I like to present it on a beautiful platter for a cocktail party or in individual glass bowls or martini glasses for a first course. Serve with lavash, a thin, soft flatbread popular in Middle Eastern countries or other flatbread-style crackers.
Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Mango Cocktail Sauce
2 pounds (12 to 15 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined with the tails kept on
1 shallot, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Mango Cocktail Sauce:
1 cup peeled and diced mango, about 1 medium ripe mango
½ cup chili sauce
2 teaspoons cream-style horseradish
2 teaspoons lime juice
A few drops of Worcestershire sauce
A few drops of hot sauce, or to taste
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the shrimp on a large baking sheet with sides. In a small bowl, combine the shallot, lemon zest and juice, olive oil and seasoning salt, and mix to combine. Pour over the shrimp and move them around to evenly coat. Make sure the shrimp are arranged in one layer.
Roast the shrimp for about 8 to 9 minutes, or until they are pink and opaque all the way through. Place in another dish and cool. Refrigerate until serving.
While the shrimp are cooking, prepare the sauce: In a food processor puree the mango. Combine the remaining ingredients together in the food processor and blend until combined. Taste for seasoning. Place in a small serving bowl and serve with shrimp or crab.
To serve as an appetizer: place the sauce in a small bowl in the center of a 12-inch platter. Arrange the shrimp around the outside of the platter in a pretty pattern. Garnish with the parsley. Make sure to have a small bowl next to the platter to dispose of the tails.
To serve as a first course: Place a couple of tablespoons of the sauce in the center of a martini glass. Sprinkle the parsley on top of the sauce. Arrange the shrimp on the edge of the glass; figure 4 to 5 shrimp per person. Serve immediately. Serves 8 as a first course; Mango Cocktail Sauce makes about 1 cup.
Advance preparation: The shrimp and sauce can be made up to 1 day ahead, covered and refrigerated.
■Add 1 diced avocado to the sauce
■Cut up the shrimp and add diced avocado to the shrimp; mix with the sauce and serve in martini or cocktail glasses.
Per serving: 71 calories; 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated fat; 25 percent calories from fat); 8 g carbohydrates; 5 g sugar; 41 mg cholesterol; 284 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 1 g fiber.
Diane Rossen Worthington is the author of 18 cookbooks and a James Beard award-winning radio show host. seriouslysimple.com