Do you long to be fancy but only in a fleeting way?  Like, you’d like to fancy up some parts of your life but not go overboard and start making your bed everyday or anything crazy like that?  Then let me say two word s to you: shrimp cocktail. Make it, eat this and only this for dinner, with champagne and you will feel hella fancy.  I’m even going to give you special dispensation to eat it in the living room (careful with the cocktail sauce though).

So all shrimp cocktail is is fresh shrimp every-so-briefly cooked (not boiled) in a very flavorful bath.  The flavor, in this case, comes from lemon juice, aromatics (celery and carrots and garlic), the shells you just took off the shrimp, and whatever else catches your fancy.  Got some parsley that’s lost its spunk?  Toss it in.  Half an onion in the fridge? In with it.  Leftover white wine from breakfast last night, yep.

Bring all of that to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes before removing the solids.  Then the shrimp go in but the key is do not let the water go above 170 degrees.  Mine was right about there the minute I put the shrimp in so I turned the heat down and just left them in until they looked cooked through (i.e. white and pink vs. grey).  It is very easy to overcook shrimp to so err on the side of caution.

I swear I was going to make the cocktail sauce because it’s easy, and one of the very few things I learned waiting tables in college was how to make cocktail sauce (ketchup plus horseradish) but ended up buying it instead.  I figure if I’m just going to stir stuff into ketchup what’s the point?  Also, it might be possible to get too fancy.

After the shrimp cooks it goes into an ice bath and then chill completely.  Nice for parties as you can make earlier in the day.

The recipe is from our friends at Serious Eats (home of our friend J Kenji Lopez-Alt).