Shrimp cocktail is classic party food, but it can often skeeve me out. While it’s supposed to come off as fancy, a ring of previously frozen shrimp on a plastic ring around watery cocktail sauce can come off as less than classy. That all changes, however, if you put devote just a bit of attention to the two components: shrimp and sauce.
First thing’s first: cook your own shrimp. Buy some raw shrimp (peeled and deveined with the tails still on) and boil them for about two minutes. Drain them into a colander and then pour them into an ice bath. That wasn’t more effort than buying the pre-made stuff, but it will taste much fresher and will cost less. Instead of the traditional cocktail sauce, I decided to serve my shrimp with a lemon caper aioli made by mixing mayonnaise with chopped capers, fresh lemon juice, grated garlic, basil, and parsley.
The capers make this aioli nice and salty – it’s nice to have that briny flavor when you’re dealing with shellfish. The lemon and herbs make it nice and bright. Considering shrimp cocktail is the kind of thing that often sits out on a table for hours at an event, bright is the last thing you usually think of when it comes to this party platter. How nice to combat that?!