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TIP OF THE DAY: Deconstruct & Reconstruct The Shrimp Cocktail

You can adapt this Seafood Cobb recipe into
a shrimp cocktail served atop a lettuce
wedge. Photo courtesy Arch Rock Fish
Restaurant | Santa Barbara.


For many people, the classiest first course for a special-occasion dinner is a shrimp cocktail.

Typically a simple preparation of shredded lettuce and boiled shrimp, garnished with cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge, a shrimp cocktail is popularly served in stemmed dish.

Shrimp cocktail couldn’t be easier to prepare. It’s also healthful fare, low in calories.

But there’s no need to stick to Grandma’s shrimp cocktail preparation. Switch it up with these ideas:

  • Dishware: You don’t need “shrimp cocktail dishes”: A pretty arrangement on a plate will work, as will a coupe (sherbet Champagne) glass, a Martini glass, Margarita glass or a rocks glass.
  • Arch Rock Fish restaurant in Santa Barbara provides an edible plate (photo at left): a wedge of lettuce. It’s the Seafood Cobb Salad: chilled shrimp, Dungeness crab, scallops, hard-cooked egg, bacon, tomato and Green Goddess dressing. But you can adapt the concept to a shrimp cocktail atop an iceberg lettuce wedge with arugula or watercress, thousand island dressing and a garnish of chopped hard-cooked egg or even crumbled bacon (a nice surf-and-turf!).

  • Or, serve an individual bowl of shrimp on a plate with different dipping sauces, as they do at Payard restaurant in New York City (photo below). You don’t need the special dishes: Standard plates and bowls with ramekins (or shot glasses) of sauce will work.

  • Switch up the greens. Switch the iceberg or romaine lettuce for a mesclun mix or shredded radicchio and endive. Or go in a completely different direction: cucumber salad, pink and white grapefruit salad with red onion, red cabbage salad, wilted spinach, watercress salad with cantaloupe or mango or our Asian-inspired salad recipe. Or combine two recipe concepts: Set the shrimp atop marinated green beans, bean salad, corn salad or purple potato salad.
  • Multiple dressings. Cocktail sauce (see recipe below) is traditional, but you don’t need to stick with tradition. Thousand island dressing, rémoulade or favorite works just as well. Or, add curry powder or some mild fresh chile to spice up conventional cocktail sauce. Spicy mayonnaise also works, as does the surf-and-turf suggestion of Baconnaise, a delicious bacon-flavored mayonnaise.

    A deconstructed shrimp cocktail. Photo courtesy Payard Restaurant | New York City.


  • Creative Garnishes: A lemon or lime wedge adds color to the plate and a hit of citrus juice is welcome in just about anything. But consider other options, from snipped chives or a gourmet olive to crumbled bacon (surf and turf again!) to a sweet counterpoint, such as a small pineapple wedge or a lychee. We also like a scattering of freeze-dried vegetable snacks like Crunchies.



  • 1 cup chili sauce
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Optional: 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

    1. BLEND ingredients.

    2. CHILL for two hours or longer to allow flavors to meld.

    What’s your approach to shrimp cocktail? Let us know!

    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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