On Monday I started the transition into the Christmas holiday with my post for ~ Once Upon a Time... A Tale About Shrimp Cocktail ~, which you can read in full in Categories 1, 14, 16 or 21. In that recipe I talked about classic shrimp cocktail, the kind my mother used to make and the kind we all associate with festive occasions and fine-dining experiences. Today, I decided to follow that post up with another version of shrimp cocktail that you might not be familiar with. I'm going to make my recipe for an authentic creamy cocktail sauce, from "across the pond"!
Shrimp cocktail is not just an American staple. The British refer to it as "prawn cocktail" and have been serving it as long as we have, but you'll find it served there with a creamy cocktail sauce called Marie Rose sauce, or, Mary Rose sauce. I fell in love with it back in December of 1983. Joe and I were in London and I ordered the prawn salad at the famous Browns Restaurant. It was just before Christmas, the upscale eatery was gloriously decorated and the creamy Mary Rose sauce was absolutely dreamy. On a side note, the food at Browns was so delicious, I asked Joe to take me back the very next night, because I wanted to taste everything I didn't order on their menu the night before!
This creamy, pink-colored sauce is made using a combination of ingredients similar to that of classic cocktail sauce, minus the horseradish, with a bit of mayonnaise and creme fraiche whisked into it instead. It was originally called Mary Rose sauce and was created in 1981 by a Chef in the Royal Navy who was catering to a commemorative dive on the ship wreck of the Mary Rose, in Portsmouth Harbor. He found himself without the proper condiments to accompany his prawns, so he used what was on hand and mixed ketchup and mayonnaise together with a bit of lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. It was so popular, it is now the standard paring for prawns, or seafood cocktail in general, in The United Kingdom!
In the 1990's, there was a trend in England to give foods more French sounding names, hence, the name Mary Rose was "trendified" or "Frenchified" to Marie Rose. Because Marie Rose sauce is so subtle, smooth and refined tasting, I recommend refraining from substituting Thousand Island or Russian salad dressing in its place. Why? While the dressings are indeed condiments whose base is made from ketchup and mayonnaise, their flavor, which is emboldened by the addition of onions and pickles, are a bit too harsh or overwhelming for this decadent, delicate salad!
1 12-ounce bottle Heinz chili sauce (1 cup)
1/2 cup Heinz ketchup
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, more or less, to tastee
1/8 teaspoon salt
~ Step 1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together all of the creamy cocktail sauce ingredients, as listed. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight, to allow all of the spicy flavors to marry with the cream. Serve chilled.
2 pounds jumbo (16/20 count) shrimp
(Note: I buy both fresh and frozen shrimp, but I always try to purchase tail-on, shell-on deveined shrimp. To thaw frozen shrimp safely, place them in a bowl of very cold water and in about an hour they'll be completely thawed.)
3 cups water
3 cups white wine
1 large, juicy lemon, cut in half
4 medium-sized bay leaves
~ Step 1. To cook the shrimp, place the wine and water in an 8-quart stockpot. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, then add the lemon rinds. Add the bay leaves. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp. When the water returns to a boil, cook for exactly 1 minute. Do not overcook!
~ Step 2. Drain the shrimp into a colander and rinse under very cold water until shrimp are cool, or cold, to the touch, but ever so slightly warm in the center. Transfer to a food storage bag and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Peel.
To serve the prawn/shrimp cocktail: Place a bed of soft salad greens on each serving plate. Arrange six shrimp and six tomato wedges and/or six avocado or cucumber slices decoratively around the sides. Place a small container of Marie Rose sauce in the center of each followed by a lemon wedge or two. Sprinkle with freshly ground peppercorn blend. Serve immediately:
Special Equipment List: whisk; 8-quart stockpot; colander; food storage bag
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)