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Shrimp "cocktail" in a glass

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Any social occasion is special when the host serves a shrimp cocktail. This appetizer sets the tone for the evening, luxury, elegance and delicious food. This recipe will set the same tone for your party.

This shrimp cocktail is quite different from the ones I have had before, thanks to the genius of David Tanis. The shrimp are quickly cooked with spices, adding a wonderful flavour to the shrimp. Be careful cooking the shrimp, you want them just cooked and still soft and succulent, not over-boiled and tough. In addition, the sauce is more like a "salsa" than the traditional horseradish sauce. The flavours are fresh and dominant and come together with the spiced shrimp so well. You will need a spoon to enjoy this dish, scooping lots of the sauce with the shrimp. This will be an appetizer that will surprise your guests, yes it is that delicious. Finally, the list of ingredients may look long, but the recipe is really quite simple.

I have been fortunate enough to have had dinner at Chez Panise when David Tanis headed the restaurant. This restaurant with David, and a cadre of chefs defined California farm-to-table cuisine, as elegant, light and popping with flavours and fresh ingredients. I have his cookbooks and follow his blogs and Insta page, you should too. I love this cookbook, and definitely need to cook more from it!

For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.

Photo credit Nisha Bilgrami


For the boil:

1 tablespoon salt, you want the water to be like sea water

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic, sliced

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

For the sauce:

3 scallions, finely minced

1 large tomato, finely minced

Salt, to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon spicy green chilli, jalapeño, serrano or other, or to taste

2-3 tablespoons parsley, minced

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced

Juice of 2 limes

1 1/2 cups good quality tomato juice

To cook the shrimp, bring about 5 cups of water to a boil and all the ingredients for the boil, except for the shrimp, into the liquid. Simmer gently for 5-7 minutes to create a stock and extract the flavours.

Add the shrimp and bring the stock back up to a boil. When boiling, simmer for exactly 1 minute and drain the shrimp and cool with all the herbs and spices in a single layer on a foil or a baking sheet. Please do not overcook the shrimp, they will turn rubbery. They need to just turn white and you should remove them.

While the shrimp are cooling, Make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust spice with chillies, salt and herbs. The sauce will turn spicier with time so please do not over-spice it now. Cool in the fridge for 1 hour or till well chilled.

To serve, spoon the sauce into small glasses, or wine glasses and top with the shrimp. Serve immediately.

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