You Can Take Away Our Parties, But You Can’t Take Away Our Shrimp Cocktail
Home Movies Tuesday!
Hello and welcome to Home Movies Tuesday! If you’ve found your way over by some miracle but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:
Well folks, if you can possibly believe it, this is the last Home Movies Tuesday of 2021: another very weird year in the books. For anyone saying “2022 will be my year”: I appreciate your optimism and I truly hope you are correct!
And now a word from our emotional sponsor (me): A very heartfelt, deeply genuine thank you for making this first year of Home Movies the best first year yet. We cooked, we filmed, we moved apartments, we Thanksgiving’d, we bing’d, we bong’d. I think I speak for the whole team here when I say we are so grateful for all of you tuning in, liking and subscribing, sharing and cooking. It’s our greatest joy to be able to make these videos for y’all, we hope you watch each one and think “wow did I learn, laugh, live, love.” So: THANK YOU!
We’re taking January off to re-group and re-collect, but will be back in February with more. Here’s hoping you all have a gorgeous rest of 2021 and a perfect start to 2022. WE MADE IT (sort of!)!
If you, like me, had all your holiday parties cancelled/postponed, you may be sad you haven’t gotten to eat as much shrimp cocktail as you were planning (I was planning on eating a lot of shrimp cocktail).
That said, I would (and do) happily eat it as a full meal, a snack, an appetizer, basically any chance I get. Whether you’re (safely!) gathering with friends for new years, or needing a night to yourself–no occasion too big or too small: you deserve to treat yourself to some shrimp cocktail before the year is over.
Over the summer, I went to a friend’s wedding where there was an ice sculpture filled with shrimp and lemon wedges (they came out on little luges on the sides, and there were large bowls of cocktail sauce for dipping). A day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought about that sculpture, and needless to say, it’s on my moodboard.
While I won’t be going to a party like that for a while (🥲), it’ll be just as thrilling when I make it (in a much smaller quantity, and sadly without an ice sculpture) for my family this new year, and this is the recipe I’ll be making (I dream about the spicy, acidic cocktail sauce and you will, too). Whether it’s a first date, a chic little night in, a steakhouse dinner, or a rescheduled holiday party, shrimp cocktail is there for us. It always will be!
I hope 2022 brings you and yours good health, joy, love, and lots of perfect shrimp cocktail.
Growing up at my family’s seafood restaurant, Harbor Docks in Destin, Florida, cocktail sauce was one of my core food groups. I put it on… everything. I dunked little fried crab claws in it, french fries, fried snapper, blackened cobia, burgers, and of course, perfectly poached shrimp drenched in lemon juice. My love for cocktail sauce is still going strong after all these years, but this version of it is now the only one I make. It’s perfectly spicy, tangy, and savory, and it passes my “would eat this with a spoon” test with flying colors. It’s very customizable, and impossible to mess up.
Use the measurements in the recipe below as a base, but know you can tweak it endlessly to your tastes. Use your favorite hot sauce, fresh or prepared horseradish, the world is your oyster (which also, as it turns out, goes very well with cocktail sauce). The only non-negotiables here are the ketchup (gotta be Heinz) and the worcestershire sauce (gotta be Lea & Perrins). Poach your shrimp with any aromatics you’d like, devein them after poaching so they don’t curl (or live a little and skip the deveining altogether), toss them in Old Bay if that’s your thing. However you make it, know it’s going to be wonderful.
Click HERE for a printable PDF.
makes about 2 cups of sauce
There doesn’t need to be an occasion, reason or excuse to do this. The reason can be “I feel like eating shrimp cocktail tonight,” and that will be good enough. You can be alone or with a person, either will work.
While I do love a spicy cocktail sauce, I think Tabasco is a little *too* spicy and not flavorful enough (gasp!). I prefer things like yuzu kosho (a Japanese fermented chili paste made with yuzu, chiles, and salt. I have been using this green one for fifteen years and it’s still my favorite) and harissa (a North African chili paste made with hot peppers, garlic and sometimes spices. I like this one from Shuk), but feel free to experiment with any of your favorite hot sauces. While I typically do not abide the usage of ketchup under any circumstance, I find myself able to shovel cocktail sauce (90% ketchup) into my mouth when accompanied by a perfectly poached shrimp with reckless abandon. Please forgive me for my hypocrisy.
FOR THE SAUCE
1 ½ cups Heinz ketchup
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2–3 tablespoons yuzu kosho, chili paste or other hot sauce, plus more to taste
2–3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3–4 tablespoons freshly grated or prepared horseradish
FOR THE SHRIMP
2–3 pounds large raw, unpeeled shrimp
1 large onion, quartered
A handful of black peppercorns
3 lemons, 1 halved crosswise and 2 quartered
Make the sauce. Combine the ketchup, ¼ cup lemon juice, yuzu kosho, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce in a medium bowl. Season with salt, pepper, hot sauce, and more lemon juice or hot sauce, if you like. Set aside to serve with the shrimp, or eat shamelessly with a spoon.
Prepare the shrimp. I prefer to cook the shrimp unpeeled, but you can peel them if you’d like. However you prepare them, don’t devein them before cooking—otherwise they will get all curly when they cook. If the idea of eating undeveined shrimp really, really bothers you, devein them after they cook and cool.
Bring a large pot of highly salted (salty like the sea!) water to a boil and add the onion and peppercorns. Working in batches as needed, lower the shrimp into the pot and cook just until they’re bright pink and opaque, 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Drain or remove using a slotted spoon and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet so they can cool down as quickly as possible (should you miraculously have space in your refrigerator, place them in there to chill faster).
To serve: Squeeze some of the halved lemon over the shrimp. Fill a large bowl with ice and then place shrimp atop with the lemon wedges; there’s no need to arrange them concentrically or anything, just however you think looks nice. Be sure to provide a little dish for tails.
Serve with cocktail sauce for dipping.