Monday, January 25, 2010

Don't mess with the classics.

Sometimes it's the simplest of dishes that nobody seems to get right.  Take the classic shrimp cocktail for example.  You can't just dump some sweet, store bought cocktail sauce around some thawed out frozen shrimp and call it a day.  This dish is all about the quality and freshness of the ingredients.  Shrimp cocktail was the dish that I would "keep an eye on" at every wedding and holiday brunch I ever attended as a kid.  Guarding the platter of lovely pink crustaceans, checking the taste and quality every 10 seconds or so.  I felt like I was doing the event a service.  "No sir, you don't want to eat these, I think they have spoiled" I would say with a mouth full of deliciously sweet shellfish, my eyes tearing from the horseradish infused cocktail sauce.  "Perhaps you should move along to the cheese platter.  Just don't eat too much of the deli meat because I shall need some of that." I would say.   I probably ate several pounds of shrimp at every single one of these events.  I was a caterer's nightmare.  Deveining, shelling, and cleaning shrimp is a time consuming process.  "Somebody yank that damn kid away from the shrimp."  I could see them glaring at me but it would take more than a mean look to derail me and my mission.

K and I did a little "cleanse" or "diet" this past week just to put our bodies back on track after a gluttonous holiday season.  I think my body had become 80% pork roast by the time the New Year had arrived.  I needed some vegetables and seafood stat.  One day for lunch I decided to make Pacific Shrimp Cocktail with Pickled Okra and Spicy Brava Cocktail Sauce.  The fresh Pacific shrimp, so lovely and sweet.  The crispy, smoked pickled okra added a nice textural note and contrasting tartness.  For the brava cocktail sauce I used organic tomato ketchup, horseradish, spicy pimenton (smoked paprika), a few spices, and a couple dashes of my favorite hot sauce.  Served all pretty in a martini glass.  I nearly reverted to my adolescent ways by telling K that perhaps she should have something else to eat because I didn't think it would suit her tastes but my conscience kicked in and we both enjoyed a delicious light lunch.

Grilled Pacific Shrimp Cocktail with Pickled Okra and Spicy Brava Cocktail Sauce
Serves 4

28-32 shell-on (21/25 count) Pacific shrimp

Brava Cocktail sauce:
1 1/2 c fresh organic tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tsp spicy pimenton (smoked paprika)
3 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
fresh cracked black pepper & kosher salt tt
4 or 5 dashes of hot sauce (I heart Tapatio)


Using a pairing knife, make an incision down the backside of the shrimp, following the intestinal track. Devein the shrimp and rinse under cool water leaving shells intact.

Heat up a grill pan over med high heat.  Brush with olive oil.  Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and grill the shrimp for 1-2 minutes each side until just cooked through.  Remove to a sheet pan and refrigerate immediately.

For the sauce, place ketchup, horseradish, pimenton, salt pepper, lemon juice and hot sauce in a bowl and whisk to combine. Refrigerate cocktail sauce until ready to serve.

Once shrimp have chilled, arrange with cocktail sauce in a martini glass and serve with pickled okra.


Jennifer B said...

I have a strange love/hate relationship with shrimp. One day I love 'em, the next..not so much. I have to say, though, this looks so good, I may have to try it out this weekend. yum!

Violet said...

Thanks Jennifer. I think shrimp is in my top 5 foods. ;)