How could I ever forget the many times I enjoyed a shrimp cocktail in Lima’s restaurants? Light, healthy, beautiful, and of course delicious, this appetizer has always been one of my favorite things to order when I’m in town. The creaminess of the avocado, the silkiness of the colorful sauce, and the freshly caught and cooked shrimp, all contribute to the pleasurable experience of eating this dish. Even better if the weather is hot or you are at the beach, but any time of the year is good for this classic of Peruvian gastronomy, which is not Peruvian per se, but we have adopted as ours with deep passion.
When I was a kid in Nicaragua, my grandfather used to bring us huge bags of shrimp directly from the fishermen’s boats, and I was always impatient for my mother to cook the precious seafood, and didn’t stop eating until my stomach was about to burst. That was a feast! Later, when I moved to Peru, I discovered the incomparable treasure of fish and seafood they had, and my love for shrimp only grew.
The best shrimp in the country come from the cold rivers of Arequipa. If you prefer, you can replace the shimp with langoustines.
Throughout the years I have tried many recipes, and eaten insurmountable amounts of shrimp in countless ways. I have got to say that to this day, I consider this simple and very easy to make shrimp cocktail as one of my favorite in the world. A matter of taste, perhaps, but why don’t you try it and decide for yourself?
As you can see in the recipe below, preparing this cocktail is no rocket science, but in order to be successful at it you most definitely need to avoid any pre-cooked kind of shrimp sold at supermarkets, and buy them fresh instead. Peel them carefully, discard the black vein running through the back of the shrimp, and poach them in a saucepan filled with boiling salted water for only 3 minutes or until they turn pink. If they are cooked beyond this point they will be overcooked and will get a tough, rubbery texture.
What we know as “Golf sauce” is the easiest thing in the world to make: simply combine mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of Brandy(or Pisco!), and season to taste, if needed. This sauce is also perfect to serve with fish fritters, calamari, avocado salad, and many other Peruvian dishes.
Last but not least, garnish each cocktail portion with hard-boiled eggs cut in fourths, or better yet, quail eggs, some scallops, or palm hearts slices.
- 1 pound shrimp
- 4 shrimp with heads (for garnish)
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon Brandy (optional)
- 2 avocados
- Curly parsley
- Wash the shrimp under cold running water. Peel and discard the peels.
- With a very sharp knife make a cut along the back of the shrimp to discard the vein. Wash again.
- In a saucepan over medium heat boil water with salt. Add the shrimp (including whole ones), turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 3 minutes or until they turn pink. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and cool.
- In the meantime, make the sauce by combining mayonnaise with ketchup in a bowl. Stir, add Worcestershire sauce, and Brandy, if using. Reserve.
- Peel the avocados, discard the seed and cut the pulp in dices.
- Add s1/2 avocado to each martini glasses -you can use any other serving dish or glass-, cover with Golf sauce, and place the cooked shrimp on the rim of the glass.
- Garnish with a whole shrimp, a sprig of curly parsley, and serve immediately.