Retro Prawn Cocktail

Retro Prawn Cocktail

Prawn Cocktail

Another survivor of a bygone era, there is something entirely whimsical about a truly retro prawn cocktail!  If the prawns are fresh and plump and the lettuce is crispy (even better of course if you have just picked it from your vege patch!) then drizzling over a little Rose Marie sauce seems an altogether delicate proposition.  I like to use a mix of both small shrimp prawns and lovely big king prawns, all presented in a suitably retro glass.  If you want to have a modern, ironic twist, it does look rather fetching served on a platter with artistic swirls of the sauce underneath, but that is a bit too 21st Century for me...
Retro Prawn Cocktail

Servings below for 4 people

300 grams shrimp or cocktail prawns
16 king prawns  (4 each, leave one in its shell for presentation if desired – it does look delightfully kitsch)
3 tablespoons excellent egg mayonnaise
½ cup double cream
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3-5 tablespoons tomato sauce (depending how sharply tomatoey you want the flavour)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Good pinch of cracked black or cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon brandy
1 small crisp lettuce – my preference is for baby Cos

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the cream and mayonnaise, then add the tomato sauce, brandy, Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice.  Mix all the ingredients together very well, taste then add pepper.  Adjust the flavour to suit  - if you like the sauce particularly sharp add more lemon, if you like it creamy increase both the mayonnaise and the cream.

My preference is for a fairly pale, velvety soft pink cream rather than the vividly orange variety which is often found in garish jars in the supermarket.
Once the sauce is ready cover the bowl and the surface of the sauce with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Taste again before dressing the prawns as the flavour does develop over time and occasionally one flavour fights off the others.

Dress small serving bowls with the lettuce leave and squeeze over a little additional lemon juice – this will keep the lettuce crisp and also prevent browning.
Arrange the prawns in the bowls and spoon over the sauce in layers until the bowl is generously full.  Add a whole king prawn to the top as an edible decoration.  Refrigerate well before serving, to allow the sauce to meld with the prawns.

Serve with Champagne!