There is a dish that I have loved ever since I was a kid, and it is shrimps drowned in creamy cocktail sauce. I made some research and realised that what I have always known as “cocktail sauce” in Italy is not the same as cocktail sauce is usually intended in the English-speaking world. Cocktail sauce, or rather salsa cocktail as I know it, is a beautiful blend of mayo and ketchup, plus a couple of secret ingredients here and there.
Some may recognize my cocktail sauce as such, others would probably call it “Marie Rose sauce”. A sweet name, but I prefer to stick with cocktail. Also because for this post I especially bought cocktail glasses, as I reckoned I might need them in the future and I didn’t have any.
This sauce is, in my opinion, a shrimp’s best friend. It matches in colour and in taste, and this is precisely why I love it. If you fancy a nice shrimp appetizer, you may want to use my salsa rosa.
- 1 egg
- 200 ml vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mustard
- 2 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp vodka
- 500 g cooked shrimp
The very first thing to do is to make the mayo. The ideal container is tall and large enough to only fit in the hand blender. Avoid a container with a too large bottom and find something tighter, a jug for example. I once used a beer glass and it worked perfectly. Crack the egg in it and start blending it with an up and down motion as the blender goes. After about a minute, when the egg has frothed a little, start adding the oil in a continuous thin stream, always keeping the up and down motion with the blender. Keep adding the oil until the mixture emulsifies – it may happen before all of the oil is added, or it may take a little more than 200 ml of oil so go on until it thickens. Then add the salt and lemon juice and give it a final blend. Mayo is ready.
If using store-bought mayo, skip the first three ingredients (you will not even need the blender as from now on you just need to stir). Add 1 tsp of mustard to the mayo and combine; next add 2 tbsp of ketchup and fold in. After that, fold in 1 tbsp of Worchestershire sauce, and after blending that in add the vodka and stir well. For the record, honouring my Polish roots I used Żubrówka Biała.
Drain your shrimps, if conserved in brine, and add them to the cocktail sauce. In Italy this dish is served as an appetizer, and is usually presented on a scallop shell. I decided to go for Martini glasses. Because cocktail, you know.
This cocktail is surprisingly refreshing. It may seem heavy, as it is mayonnaise-based, but the addition of Worcestershire sauce and vodka helps to balance the flavours and virtually make it taste lighter. Although normally used as mere decoration, a couple of salad leaves on the side may add to the texture of this dish, a much needed crunch in an otherwise soft experience. I had put the salad leaves as decoration myself for the pictures, but I actually very much enjoyed eating them together with the shrimp cocktail, so the next time I might consider putting some more on the table.