I have a soft spot for this retro classic starter. Unfortunately, the prawn cocktail has has become a figure of fun and embarrassment that many of us are no longer taking this dish seriously. It sort of screams Abigail’s Party in your face, a kind of 1970s hysteria where everyone in the UK was excited about pasta .. but in a tin, and during a time when Delia was soon to take the country by storm with her microwave recipe cookbooks and endless casserole recipes. But back then this recipe was something of a culinary treat. Prawns and avocados were not as affordable or as easy to get hold of as they are now. The prawns were often watery and mushy and served with some soggy lettuce and a meagre, tasteless dressing. It is is no wonder that the prawn cocktail has suffered such ridicule, and along with the chicken kiev or a black forest gâteau this starter is going to need a little longer until it is seen as anything other than a fond memory.
This is why a prawn cocktail is often missed on a lot of food blogs or recipe books. Of course the popular food writers usually have some form of a prawn cocktail recipe hidden someone in one of their many cookbooks but many of us out there are avoiding this recipe, which is a shame. It is easier and more affordable to get hold of better quality fish these days and avocados are also readily available, good quality and you only need a few slices per dish. A prawn cocktail is in fact a tasty and delicious starter, taking on the best of fresh food and including ingredients that we all love and have become so well accustomed to.
I also add smoked salmon to my prawn cocktail. I make sure to use some shrimps as they are a little more delicate and go well with the large chunks of smoked salmon. I recommend to look for good quality ready cooked ones in your supermarket. Most large supermarkets with a fish deli or good fish selection will have these readily available. For me, the sauce is what makes this dish. I use a mix of mayonnaise and crème fraîche. I have tried this with crème fraîche only but I found it hard to get that tangy flavour to it still. I also add a dash of tabasco sauce for some heat and of course the whiskey adds a lovely kick to it but it is not overpowering.
- 400g cooked small prawns/ shrimps
- 250g smoked salmon (roughly slices into medium chunks)
- 2 small baby gem lettuce (roughly torn)
- 50g watercress
- 1 avocado (cut in half, peeled, stoned removed and chopped into thin slices)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 4 tbspn mayonnaise
- 4 tbspn crème fraîche
- 1 and half tbpsn tomato ketchup
- Dash of tobasco sauce
- Dash of worcestershire sauce
- 2 tspn whiskey
- Cayenne pepper
- Add the smoked salmon, prawns, avocado and lemon juice to a medium size mixing bowl. Add a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and mix well.
- In a separate bowl mix together the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, tomato ketchup, tobasco sauce, worcestershire sauce and whisky. Mix well until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Add the lettuce and watercress to each serving bowl/dish. Then top with the salmon, prawns and avocado mixture. Spoon a few tablespoons of the marie rose sauce on top and serve!