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Boiled Shrimp or Prawns for Cocktails

Posted by Kira DeRito on

Look - I know how easy it is to just grab the ready-to-eat shrimp ring or bag of cooked and frozen shrimp. You literally just have to thaw it out and place it on the table and - bam - done. But... with just a few minutes more you can elevate your shrimp cocktail game to a much higher level of culinary quality. When you start with shrimp that are frozen as a *raw* product and then cook and serve them (instead of having them pre-cooked and then frozen) it's a whole new game. And you know we like to win!  :)
First up is the basic boil technique. This can go all sorts of wrong if you cook them too long or rinse them too much afterward, so here are all the tiny details to make it a great success!
~serves 3-5 for appetizers
one pound peeled and deveined shrimp or prawns
12 cups water
3 T table salt
2 T Old Bay seasoning
So what we are trying to do is cook the shrimp perfectly and infuse them with just a little bit of salt and flavoring to enhance the already-awesome flavor of the shrimp itself. 
Get a large stock pot and add the water, salt and seasoning and crank up the heat. Remove your shrimp from whatever container they are in and make sure any liquid drains. When the seasoned water is at a rolling boil, add the shrimp and set your timer for 5 minutes. Usually, (depending on how many shrimp your are cooking) the water will stop boiling because you've added something cold to the pot, and will take 2-4 minutes to reboil... this is okay, and counts as cooking time. Our goal is to see the shrimp boil in the water for at least one minute (during minute 4-5) if not sooner. 
While you're shrimp are cooking, get a bowl and add a tray's worth of ice to it. Then add about the same volume of water. Our plan is to cool the shrimp completely without rinsing the shrimp, because the rinsing process will remove the flavor.
When the shrimp are done cooking, pour out most of the boil liquid into your sink and then with a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and place them into the ice bath. Let them sit for about 10 minutes to cool completely (or if you were wanting to eat them warm, only 1-2 minutes so they are finger cool) and then remove them from the ice water, place in a bowl, and refrigerate until you're ready to eat them. This can easily be done a day or evening ahead of time without affecting quality, so save yourself the trouble if you're having a party and do these early.  :) Serve with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce for dipping (or our wasabi ketchup - SO GOOD) and enjoy!

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