Prawn cocktail


Prawn cocktail

Prawn cocktail is rightly enjoying something of a renaissance, having been dismissed for many years as an over-hyped 1970s icon. In fact it is a wonderful starter and it also makes a delightful light summery lunch if served with some nice bread and a glass of chilled wine.

So what is different about a Swedish prawn cocktail? Firstly, Swedes set great store by using freshly peeled prawns. It is a time-consuming job and I find it hard not to eat the prawns as I peel them, but Swedes have convinced me that it is worth the effort. Secondly, they normally add sliced mushrooms and asparagus spears, neither of which seem to be usually added in the UK. John Duxbury



•  You may not need all the sauce. It should only coat the top few prawns and not be too dominant. Serve any left over sauce separately so people can help themselves if they want more.

•  This is also delicious made with crab or a mixture of crab and prawns.


8   asparagus spears, green or white
100 g (1 cup) lettuce leaves, roughly shredded
4-8   button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2   small tomatoes, cored and sliced
200 g (7 oz) hand-peeled prawns
    paprika (optional)


4 tbsp   mayonnaise
2 tbsp   gräddfil or soured cream
1 tsp   brandy
¼ tsp   lemon juice
1 tbsp   chilli sauce
    salt, to taste
    cayenne pepper, to taste


4   lemon wedges
4   dill sprigs
8   shell on prawns


1. Break the ends off the asparagus spears and discard the tough bottoms. Rinse the tops thoroughly to wash off any grit.

2. Cook the spears for 2 minutes in lightly salted boiling water. Drain thoroughly and then refresh in ice-cold water. (This helps preserve the colour and prevents them continuing to cook.)

3. When cold dry the spears thoroughly with kitchen paper. Cut off the top 5 cm (2”) and keep for a garnish. Roughly chop the rest.

4. Mix the chopped asparagus, lettuce, mushroom slices and tomatoes. Divide the mixture between four dishes or cocktail glasses.

5. Place the prawns on top of the lettuce mixture.

6. Mix the dressing ingredients and season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper. Pour the dressing over the prawns to lightly coat. (You might not need it all.)

7. Dip the end of the asparagus spears in paprika (optional) and then add these to the cocktails as a garnish.

8. Finally garnish with shell-on prawns, lemon wedges and sprigs of dill.


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