The shrimp “cocktail” as we know it originated in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The proud, flavorful shrimp of my youth have been reduced to rubbery sauce shovels sadly sharing sherbet cups with week-old lemon wedges. It’s just not right.
There’s a secret ingredient in this new cocktail sauce: smoked almonds. Trust me on this.
Shrimp Cocktail 2.0
- 2 ounces kosher salt
- 2 ounces sugar
- 1 cup water (at room temperature)
- 8 ounces ice cubes
- 32 head-on shrimp (21-25 count)
FOR THE COCKTAIL SAUCE
- 1/4 cup smoked almonds
- 1 28- ounce can whole tomatoes (drained)
- 1/2 cup ketchup (I prefer Heinz, and no … they don't pay me to say that)
- 3 tablespoon Sambal chili paste (or other prepared chili sauce)
- 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon old bay seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Combine the salt, sugar and water in a mixing bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the ice and set aside while prepping the shrimp.
- Use a pair of scissors to remove the veins from the shrimp without removing the shell.
- Put the shrimp in the brine and refrigerate for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, to make the cocktail sauce, place almonds in food processor and pulse until pieces resemble course meal. Add all the other ingredients except salt and process in pulses until desired consistency is reached. I like mine a little on the chunky side.
- Let the sauce sit in the work bowl for 5 minutes, then taste. Add the salt as desired. (Refrigerate 3 hours before serving. Up to a week is okay too.)
- Place a half sheet pan or foil-lined broiler pan about 8 inches under the broiler and heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp from the brine and rinse under cold water. Dry thoroughly on paper towels. In the same bowl (discard the brine), toss the shrimp with the oil and sprinkle with Old Bay.
- Arrange the shrimp on the sizzling-hot sheet pan and slide back under the broiler. Set your timer for 2 minutes.
- Clean out the bowl and stick it in the freezer.
- Flip the shrimp quickly with tongs and return to the broiler for 1 minute.
- Transfer the shrimp to the chilled bowl and toss a few times to knock down the heat. Place in the freezer, tossing every few minutes until the shrimp are thoroughly cooled (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes).
- Peel the shrimp and serve alongside the sauce.