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Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Another Eizel’s party rule:  if you don’t know what else to serve,  give ’em some shrimp! It’s a little more expensive than your normal chips and dip –  but these are your friends and family, they deserve the best of what you have to offer. Another plus is that it’s low calorie, it’s one of those dishes I typically serve at girl’s night in. Which reminds me,  I have got to schedule one soon!

For this recipe,  it’s all about the shrimp.  Your typical shrimp cocktail recipe calls for blanching the shrimp.  Which gets you bland rubbery shellfish – to kick it up,  I season it simply with salt and freshly grated black pepper. Now the real kicker is roasting it. Roasting does to shrimp what it does to everything else,  it intensifies the natural flavors of the ingredients. How do I get that color and maintain the juiciness?  There are 2 things:

  1. A little sugar when seasoning it.  Shrimp has a natural sweetness to it and the sugar helps bring it out.It also helps caramelize in the oven. 
  2. Do not over cook the shrimp. Yes,  you can over cook it.  A perfectly cooked shrimp is moist and has a little bite to it. Overcooked shrimp is when the meat starts breaking down and gets mushy. It takes no more than 5 minutes to cook the shrimp in the pan.  Since I’m roasting it,  I give it a couple more minutes (about 8).

And why not just buy cocktail sauce?  Well chances are you already have majority of the ingredients at home except for the horseradish. Save yourself another jar to store in your fridge and invest on the horseradish instead,  you’ll be able to use it a lot more often(stay tuned for some recipes). 

The thing that most jarred cocktail sauces is missing is freshness – I never quite appreciated cocktail sauce until I actually started making it.  I can adjust the heat to my liking and I love having a little more lemon in there.  The lemon really brightens up the flavor.  Ideas on other dishes to pair it with would be anything battered and fried(hehe). To put simply:  a fancier ketchup 😛

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

Adapted from Ina Garten
Serves 6

2 lbs shrimp (15-20 count), shelled with the tail on, deveined
salt  & freshly grated black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
olive oil, enough to coat lightly
For the sauce:
1 cup ketchup 
3 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
hot sauce (optional for more heat)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Season the shrimp with salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil – mix well. On a baking sheet pan, spread the shrimp in 1 layer. Roast the shrimp about 8 to 10 minutes (depending on how strong your oven is). Set aside to cool down.

Meanwhile, mix the ketchup, horseradish, lemon and hot sauce.  Salt and pepper to taste –  you may not need much of the salt because the other ingredients would have it.  Adjust the lemon and hot sauce depending on your preference. Serve cold or room temperature. 

*You can make these a day ahead and just keep it in the fridge. 


  1. Tes

    Eizel, your shrimp cocktail looks so yummy! The shrimp looks perfect and juicy. I just love your simple sauce, too. I will try this in my next party 🙂


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