That time of year is creeping up on us again…the Holiday office potlucks, family gatherings, and parties with friends. We’re all busy and faced with a conundrum. We don’t have time to spend on elaborate recipes but we also don’t want to settle on bringing a box of store bought cookies or run-of-mill hor d’oeuvres to the festivities. That’s where this Asian Shrimp Cocktail recipe comes to the rescue!
The origin of Shrimp Cocktail is a bit muddled. Some sources say its name stems from the cocktail of condiments in the sauce. Others indicate that comes from being traditionally served in cocktail glasses, a creative repurposing of unused stemware during Prohibition. Regardless of its original creation, Shrimp Cocktail is a quintessential retro American dish that’s undergone little innovation over the past century. All too often, it’s a tired standby on the party circuit complete with frozen precooked shrimp and jarred sauce laden with red corn syrup unceremoniously plopped into a dish.
Here’s an Asian twist to shrimp cocktail that does this classic justice. True, some of the ingredients outlined below may not be available at your local food mart but for items like Wasabi paste and fish sauce, you have asianfoodgrocer.com. And you don’t have an excuse for not having the time either…following the recipe below to completion takes an hour tops and the results, replacing the ketchup with a mixture of fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce, Tabasco with Thai sweet chili sauce, horseradish with Wasabi, and shrimp poached in a ginger, lime and cilantro broth are so much more delicious. I think your fellow partiers will agree!
1 lbs extra large shrimp with shells
4 cups water
1 Tbs sugar
2 tsp salt
1 whole cilantro plant (leaves and stems)
1″ knob of ginger sliced thin
1 Serrano chili
1/2 cup sake
1 small tomato cut into 1/4″ cubes
1/2 cup stewed tomato puree (tomato sauce in the US)
2 Tbs Thai sweet chili sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp Wasabi
Remove shells from shrimp being careful to leave the tail intact. Place shells in a large saucepan along with the water, sugar, salt, cilantro, ginger, chili and lime peel. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes then strain the stock. Add the strained stock back into the pan along with the sake and boil for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol in the sake. Add the shrimp to the hot stock, cover, then turn off the heat and poach between 8-10 minutes.
When the shrimp are cooked, plunge them into a bowl of ice water, drain, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Combine tomato, tomato puree, Thai Chili sauce, and fish sauce in a pan simmering over low heat (about 20 minutes) until the tomatoes have mostly dissolved into the sauce. Remove from heat and allow to reach room temperature. Add the lime juice and Wasabi and stir well to make sure there are no clumps of Wasabi. Chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
To serve, put a small bowl in the middle of a large plate, add the cocktail sauce to the bowl and place shrimp around the bowl.