Making a fresh savoury cold appetizer is not easy, but this recipe does the trick. This Mango Shrimp cocktail uses a ‘cocktail sauce’ that contains no tomato or vinegar, even though it looks exactly like the usual shrimp cocktail. The secret comes from using prawn heads and paprika to make the cocktail sauce red instead of tomato sauce. I guarantee your guests will be pleasantly surprised when they taste the first spoonful and find the cocktail is neither sour nor tangy.
- Mid-sized Prawns (400g)
- Avocado (2)
- Asparagus (8 spears)
- Mango (1 large)
- Minced Garlic
- Place 2 Avocados into the fridge.
- Cut off the heads of your prawns and snip off the whiskers. Using kitchen scissors, cut the shell of each prawn down the back and pull out the intestines.
- Fry 2t of minced garlic with 1T of oil in a pan on hig heat. When the garlic begins to brown, add the prawn heads and stir fry till they are fully red, then add a cup of water and 1T brandy. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Crush each prawn head with a wooden spatula to release their flavour.
- Add the prawn bodies to the pan and fish them out again when they are curled up and red on both sides. Pour the pan’s contents through a sieve into a bowl.
- Return the reddish prawn stock to the pan. Add 2T mayonnaise, 2T milk, 1t mustard and 1t paprika to the pan. Simmer until the liquid thickens into a thin orange sauce. Put the ‘cocktail sauce’ into the fridge to thicken and cool.
- Peel and dice the prawns. Wrap in cling film and place into the fridge.
- Cut off the bottom quarter of each spear of asparagus and then use a peeler to remove any fibrous skin at the bottom end. Par boil the Asparagus for 2 minutes, you can use the same pan. Cut the asparagus into pieces and place them in the fridge.
- Cut the mango on both sides of the seed. Using a knife, carve a crisscross grid on each of the ‘halves’. With a large spoon, spoon out the mango cubes, one row at a time. Put the mango cubes in the fridge.
- When it is time to serve the shrimp cocktail, halve the avocados and extract the seed using the blade corner (the part next to the handle) of a large knife. Delicately spoon out the flesh and dice. Try not to do this ahead of time as avocado darkens fast when exposed to air.
- Toss the 4 components of your cocktail together in a salad bowl and assemble the mixture on individual soup dishes. Drizzle the ‘cocktail sauce’ over the mixture and serve immediately.
- To make the cocktail more substantial, you can serve it as a salad by adding a bed of shredded lettuce.
- Try to dice everything to similar dimensions. Form a picture mentally of the final result before you start slicing and dicing. For the asparagus consider only the length of each bit as you can’t adjust the diameter.
- One option is to add a flat t of cumin along with the paprika, to add some more heat and give your cocktail a kick. This is the way the French would do it, but its not for everyone.
- Choose your uncooked ingredients carefully. The avocado should be just becoming black for the flesh to be soft. If the avocado is still crunchy to the bite, it is too raw. If it is mushy, then it is too ripe. The mango should be ripe enough that its not sour. Taste both of these before putting them in the fridge, to give yourself the opportunity to procure replacements if necessary.
- Prawns have to be of a minimum size before their heads develop flavour. In spite of the name, you should not use shrimp (i.e. small prawns). For this recipe, individual prawns should weigh no less than 50g (i.e. 8 or less prawns that add up to 400g).
- Going the extra mile: If you want the cocktail to have a nice clean look, you cannot toss the avocado together with the rest of the components as they will ‘grease’ up everything else. The best way to avoid this is to arrange the components separately in stripes like a Cobb salad or like a pie chart. Layering in a wine glass will work as well. Another thing you can do is shock the asparagus in ice water after blanching, to make them a brilliant green.