Bring on Prawn Cocktails! Prawns (shrimp) tossed in a classic rose coloured Prawn Cocktail Sauce. So Aussie, so summer, so Christmas, so…..erm…80’s??
Prawn Cocktails might be a classic from the 80’s but in my books, they have NEVER gone out of fashion and never will!
In my younger days, I associated prawn cocktails with posh restaurants and feeling very grown up, eating the prawns out of fancy looking glasses with little forks. I know that nowadays, many posh restaurants do modernised versions of prawn cocktails. Plating them up in a fancy way, with poshed-up sauces (I think I even saw a prawn cocktail foam sauce once!!). It’s quite common to see avocado in prawn cocktails too.
I’ve never poshed-up Prawn Cocktails. To me, it’s a classic that is perfect as it is. Yes avocado goes great with it. But it doesn’t need it! It doesn’t make it any better for me personally, so I stick with the base recipe.
Today’s, it’s a perfect summer day here in Sydney. Clear blue skies, the ocean is crystal clear (though surfers are probably sulking because there is zero surf). For festive seasons and summer holidays in Australia, the vision of piles of fresh prawns is one that is familiar to many.
And we all know that there is only one thing better than the sight of a pile of fresh prawns….
….a pile of peeled freshly cooked prawns. Am I right or am I right?? 😉
Thus the ultimate appeal of Prawn Cocktails. It’s every prawn lovers dream come true because it’s a mound of prawns that someone has already peeled for you!
The sauce for Prawn Cocktails is a Marie Rose Sauce. A simple blend of mayonnaise, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, with optional horseradish. I use Neil Perry’s recipe (he’s a famous restauranteur in Australia). Fab for prawn cocktails but also a great sauce generally for dipping in prawns, chicken fingers/nuggets, wings and err….well, many things! (I have a brain block and am rushing because I want to get to the beach!)
As for the serving vessel for Prawn Cocktails – well, it just so happens that I have martini glasses because I am rather partial to the odd martini myself. ??? However, you don’t need fancy glasses for Prawn Cocktails. Yes they are nice served in glass. But they are just as tasty and quite cute in any smallish bowl or ramekins. And failing that, serve them in lettuce leaves! (Actually, that’s a great idea for an appetiser!)
I actually made this for my 2016 Christmas Menu. Last week I shared the main centrepiece, a Baked Parmesan Crusted Salmon with a Lemon Cream Sauce and next week I will share the dessert (Aussie PAV!) as well as a post bringing the whole menu together with sides etc.
I know many of you reading this are in or approaching the dark depths of winter, so hopefully this doesn’t make you jealous about our Australian summer but instead brings back memories of YOUR summer! – Nagi xx
- 1 kg / 2 lb medium fresh cooked or raw prawns with shell and heads on (yields ~600g once peeled); OR
- 600 g / 1.2 lb fresh cooked prawns already peeled
- About 3 cup iceberg lettuce , finely sliced
- Lemon wedges
- Finely chopped parsley (optional)
- 2/3 cup / 165 ml mayonnaise , preferably good quality whole egg mayonnaise (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp ketchup or Australian/UK tomato sauce (Note 3)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp freshly grated horseradish (or sub 1 1/2 tsp jarred OR 3/4 tsp wasabi)
- Dash of tabasco sauce (to taste)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (to taste + tiny bit of colour)
If you are using whole prawns, remove heads and peel them. Leave a few whole for decorative purposes, if you wish. I find that with medium size already cooked prawns, deveining is usually not necessary (it's hard to do + so small it's barely noticeably especially with sauce).
Mix together Sauce in a small bowl.
Toss prawns with Sauce.
Place a bit of lettuce in serving dishes. I like to use Martini glasses, but you can use any small serving vessel, or even small lettuce cups.
Top with prawns. Serve, garnished with lemon wedges and a sprinkle of parsley, if using.
1. Let's talk PRAWNS! The better and fresher your prawns, the tastier this will be. In Australia, seafood stores and even major supermarkets sell really great quality fresh whole cooked prawns. They are basically cooked the moment they are caught, so they are great quality!
For a premium, you can purchase them already peeled. But they will be juicier and fresher if you peel them yourself!
I tend not to use frozen prawns myself so I can't comment on the quality of cooked frozen prawns. 🙂 I leave that up to you!
2. Whole Egg Mayonnaise is smoother and not as sharp in flavour as classic mayonnaise. It is now widely available in Australian supermarkets - I use S&W (sold at Woolies and Coles).
3. Tomato Sauce in Australia/UK and many other countries outside America is a condiment that is the equivalent of ketchup (just slightly less flavouring spices in it). If you are in America, do NOT use your tomato sauce which is more like pureed tinned tomatoes with some flavourings, the flavour is not strong enough!
4. I cater for 100g / 3.5 oz of prawns per head which I think is a good size for starters. But you can be as generous as you want!
5. Prep time assumes you use already peeled prawns. I peeled my own - it takes me about 15 minutes to peel 1 kg / 2 lb of medium sized prawns (about 45 I think), but I've had practice! Line up the family at the kitchen bench and make a production line out of it! And save the shells to make prawn stock - pop it in the freezer (you can crush them) and I'll do a recipe in january using the prawn shells!
6. Sauce recipe by Neil Perry.
7. Make Ahead: Peel prawns and place in airtight container for up to 24 hours (the fresher the better). Make sauce and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Assemble just before serving. If you assemble more than say 3 hours ahead, you'll end up with sauce pooled on the lettuce. I assembled it 5 hours ahead and had that problem - still delish and still enough sauce on the prawns, but there was more sauce than ideal pooled at the base of the glass.
8. Nutrition per serving, assuming 6 servings.
LIFE OF DOZER
See? I told you it was a beautiful day today. 🙂 Dozer is gagging to get to the beach so I’m signing off. Have a great weekend! N x