The holiday season was SO busy for us, but I’m guessing that statement is not unique to me. I hope you all have had a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! I know I was so spoiled with not one, not two, but THREE Christmases! How does a girl get so lucky? I had one with my family in November in the US, one with just my better half in the middle of December in Perth and a third with his family on Christmas in Melbourne. It was a whirlwind of food and family and presents too!
My better half spoiled me with a brand new Kitchen Aid! And not just any Kitchen Aid but a Professional 550 HD! Do I look like a happy girl or what? I’ve already used it a couple of times and have great things planned for it. I love it!!
So the New Year is here and I haven’t even shared with you my Christmas recipes. So I thought I’d do a quick series of holiday posts that share with you all the dishes I made over those crazy few weeks. Sound good? I hope so!
The holiday season can be so busy, so it’s great to have some quick and easy but impressive dishes in your arsenal. And today’s recipe is just that; quick, easy but always impressive. I made prawn cocktail twice this season. Once for a a little cocktail party I had and once as the first course of a three course seafood dinner I made for my better half. It can be easily made for just a few or a crowd.
On the two occasions I focused on sourcing really high quality local prawns. Well, local in that they were from Western Australia. Try out some different varieties and find one you really like. I use Exmouth Tiger Prawns. I just love the flavor and the texture. They have a bit of sweetness to them that balances the kick of the cocktail sauce and they have a firm texture with a bit of a snap when you bite into them. My second choice is the King Prawn (also sourced from Exmouth). They have great flavor but a softer texture; less of that snap that I really like.
Whatever kind of prawn you choose, make sure you purchase from a reputable fish monger who sells high quality, very fresh seafood. I usually try to purchase head on for prawn cocktail, though I don’t always serve with head on. Head on prawns typically are more fresh than head off.
Because the prawns I used were so large I absolutely opted to devein. The first time I served them, I went with head and shell off but left the tail on. The second time was devein only but left the shell and head on.
If you’re going to do a prawn cocktail, they should be purchased as close to the event as possible in order to ensure freshness. Once you’ve purchased them you can prepare them by peeling and deveining or leaving head on and deveining. To devein use a paring knife if you will be deheading and shelling. To devein leaving shells and heads on, use a pair of kitchen scissors. Poke the tip of the scissors in the gap just below the head. Make small snips until you reach the tip of the tail segment. Rinse the prawn under cold running water to help devein and rinse any debris away.
To cook, fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a rolling boil. Use a lot more water than you think you need. When you drop the prawns in you want the water to return to a boil very quickly. Once the water has reached a full rolling boil drop your prawns in the water. Once it returns to a boil it should only be a few minutes (or less) for the prawns to cook fully. Cooking time will depend on their size. Once the prawns have turned bright pink, they are done. Drain the prawns and run under cold water or drop into a bowlful of ice water in order to stop the cooking process. Put in a covered bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Be creative with the presentation! That’s half the fun. If you are serving for a large crowd and they will be on the buffet for a prolonged period of time, I suggest serving the prawns on ice in order to keep them chilled and safe to eat.
You can also make your cocktail sauce ahead of time. So you see, this is great party food because you can prepare it the morning of, or even the night before if necessary. This leaves you free for other preparations.
Cocktail sauce is quite simple and is really just about adjusting until you get the flavor you want. Start with a spoonful of grated horseradish. Press some of the liquid out of the spoonful otherwise the cocktail sauce could end up runny. Add a dash or two of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. A few cranks of the black pepper mill, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt. To that mixture, add about a quarter cup of ketchup. Have a taste and adjust. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This should be enough to serve a few people. To serve a crowd, just increase the quantities.
And there you have it. Quick. Easy. Impressive. A must have in your entertaining portfolio.
Stay tuned for Beef Tenderloin Bites, Christmas Dinner for Two, Beetroot and Feta Dip, Happy New Year BBQ Wings – 3 Ways, Grilled Potato Salad, Green Bean, Red Onion and Feta Salad, and Happy New Year Dinner for Two.