Prawn Cocktail

Prawn Cocktails, also known as Shrimp Cocktail, swept the party scene at the turn of the century. This seafood dish was the most popular hors d’oeuvre in Great Britain in the 1960s and into the late 1980s, but the United States picked up on the trend decades earlier. Some sources link the serving of the dish in cocktail glasses to the ban on alcoholic drinks during the 1920s prohibition era United States. The dish is simple but was reserved for only the most sophisticated: it consists of shelled, cooked prawns in a cocktail sauce service in a glass. Though many Americans now buy pre-made, store-bought cocktail sauce, this homemade recipe is a simple, fast, and delicious way to elevate any dinner party you want to throw.



  • 10 cups cold water
  • 2 medium carrots, quartered
  • 2 stalks of celery, quartered
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 5 springs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 pound medium or large shrimp, rinsed and in the shell
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
  • 4 teaspoons horseradish, trained
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce of choice, to taste



  1. Place the water, carrot, celery, onion, garlic, lemon, parsley, thyme, and bay leaves into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer, then place the cover on top (slightly ajar) and cook for twenty minutes.


  1. Drop the shrimp into the simmering liquid and turn off the heat. Cook the shrimp, stirring occasionally, until they curl and turn punk—between two and three minutes depending on the size of the shrimp.


  1. Drain the shrimp and cool to room temperature. Then, peel the shrimp and remove the vein along the back curve. Refrigerate if not serving right away.


  1. Combine ketchup, lemon, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in a small mixing bowl. Mix well and refrigerate until ready to serve.


  1. To serve, bring shrimp to room temperature for twenty minutes. Put cocktail sauce in a medium bowl and surround with shrimp. For individual glasses, pour cocktail sauce into a cocktail glass and place shrimp around the rim. Garnish with lemon and serve.