DIY Shrimp Cocktail

❄LG,BE’s 12 Days of Christmas❄


For as long as I can remember, we almost always had a shrimp ring for an appetizer as part of my family’s meatless Christmas Eve feast. An odd choice some may say, but for kids who were quickly learning how addicted we were to seafood at a young age, a dream come true.

The tradition still stands, and a fondness for a really great shrimp cocktail has increased over the years. Now, instead of buying a premade shrimp ring at the store and waiting for a holiday sale, I spend the money on the protein itself and take the extra time to poach the shrimp on my own. The result? The satisfaction of making something from scratch that you would normally buy, duh! But mostly you end up with super tender shrimp.

Argentinian shrimp are best for this recipe because it closely replicates the texture and sweetness of lobster meat. I usually buy already cleaned, shell-still-on shrimp since the shell will help the protein not overcook too quickly when poached. They are also usually a larger size then most shrimp which adds to the luxury that shrimp cocktail stands for.

So, here’s what you’ll need to create this simple appetizer at home:


  • 1 bag of frozen raw Argentinian shrimp, thawed overnight
  • Juice of 2 lemons, 1 halved and saved for the poaching liquid
  • 1/4 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • Ice bath
  • Seafood cocktail sauce for serving

In a large pan, add 8 cups of water, the kosher salt, sugar, lemon juice and lemon halves and bring to a rolling simmer. This is essentially your poaching bath for the shrimps — it’s purpose is to enhance the flavour of the liquid with equal parts of salt and sugar. The addition of citrus helps cook the protein evenly and keeps the shrimp from getting too mushy.

Once the poaching liquid begins to simmer and all of the salt and sugar has dissolved, add the shrimp (still with shell on) to the liquid and cook for 3-4 minutes maximum.

During this time, place about 6 cups of water and 2 cups of ice in a separate bowl — this is the ice bath that your shrimp will be swimming in shortly. Once the shrimp are cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp into the ice bath immediately to prevent them from overcooking. Leave in the ice bath for a couple minutes.

Next, drain the shrimp and begin to de-shell them, keeping the tail piece on. Also check to see that the back of the shrimp were properly deveined and cleaned at this time. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towel before lining them on a plate for serving. If you don’t plan on serving right away, saran wrap the shrimp and keep them in the fridge or, to bring them to a cooler temperature quickly, place them in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce — pure and delicious.
As always, peace and good eats.

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