Herb-Poached Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

I am a shrimp lover. For the past 6 or 7 years I have made shrimp cocktail the same way. Peel the shrimp and start cooking in cold water until just done, then chill in cold water or an ice batch. The sauce is just ketchup (I prefer Hunts over Heinz in this application), prepared horseradish (in red jar) and lemon juice. Simple, delicious, relatively inexpensive and done in just 15 minutes.  Could Chris Kimball improve on my simple happiness? No. The added complexity, time and cost doesn’t significantly enhance the flavor. Worse, the cocktail sauce was a downgrade from the simple basic sauce that I’ve been making for years. The chili powder and cayenne seem out of place; I prefer the heat to come from adding more horseradish.

A fancy name for shrimp cocktail.

The recipe is here. This recipe added 25 minutes to prepare the shrimp broth, and the extra steps dirty a strainer and one more bowl. Also adding $3.50 in wine, plus a few dollars in herbs (1 spring of tarragon leaves and 5 coriander seeds) only leaves the slightest hint of flavor. Save your $5 for something more meaningful (like a second pound of shrimp!).

Overall: I give the shrimp 4 stars, and the cocktail sauce just 2 stars. (Average of 3-stars). Increasing the cost from $6 to $11 is completely unjustified, though. I will stick to my old recipe-less method.


  1. The cocktail sauce recipe yields way too much sauce; enough for at least 3 pounds of shrimp.
  2. I couldn’t find coriander seeds, so I skipped them. Now I’m glad I save the money.
  3. It seems wasteful to dilute 1 cup of white wine into 3 cups of water. Such a weak mixture doesn’t noticeably enhance the flavor, and I’d rather drink the wine.

Rating: 3-stars.
Cost: $11 for 1 pound of shrimp.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 5:00 PM.  Ready:  6:00 PM.

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