Hey there! It’s time for a retro prawn cocktail thats straight from the 80’s but just as good. Plump, juicy prawns tossed in a pink rose marie sauce that’s the perfect dipping sauce and so easy to make. Grab some crisp lettuce, cucumber and avocado to style this prettier and make this classic more stylish!
I’m taking you back in time today. To an appetiser that still feels very adult-ish and grown up and I can’t even believe I’m actually writing a recipe for it. Because I’ve had this only a few times in life, and I still remember the whole thing crystal clear. It was my sisters favourite and we would always compete for the last prawn. But the taste is so unforgettable. Chilled prawns, that pink cocktail sauce that was sweetish and so addictive and crisp lettuce that we would pick and use to wipe off the last bits of sauce.
I don’t even know if people serve it like this anymore. In stem glasses (although I’ve used ice cream bowls here because umm no martini glasses in our house – no judging please!) or has serving prawn cocktail become fancier? I’ve seen versions where they are served salad style in large platters. Either way, this is a delicious, easy appetiser that will bring back memories for everyone! Here’s a conversation starter if there was ever one.
There isn’t much to this recipe, because it has a pretty small list of mandatory ingredients – prawns, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, ketchup and some lettuce. Everything else is optional really. Which is why its very important that those five ingredients are good quality. So buy your prawns from a good source, make sure you buy good quality mayonnaise (no vegetarian mayo please!), and get really crisp, fresh lettuce.
Cooking Prawns for Prawn Cocktail
There are different ways to cook prawns for prawn cocktail. You can cook them in a pan for 3-4 minutes on each side in a splash of olive oil, or you can poach them in boiling water (I have instructions in the recipe below). You can also use pre-cooked prawns which are available at supermarkets. Either way, make sure to get the best quality prawns you can find.
How do you make Prawn Marie Rose Sauce (Cocktail Sauce)?
The sauce used for prawn cocktail is called marie rose sauce and its made with four key ingredients: mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, ketchup and either cayenne pepper or tabasco. I like to add a squeeze of lime juice, some others like to add horseradish, and even a splash of brandy. The sauce is pink from the ketchup, and has a creamy, sweetish taste. It’s a great dipping sauce and you can use it to dip fried chicken, nuggets, potato wedges, fries, wings etc.
When I use prawns, I like to keep the tails on because it gives them perfect handling. You can hold ’em tails and dip it in the sauce. Also dip the ends in extra sauce and just suck the meat out of the tails. So much fun!
This prawn cocktail recipe is straight from the 80’s. Crisp lettuce, plump, juicy prawns and an addictive cocktail sauce that’s perfect as a dipping sauce. Its an appetizer that will take everyone back in time!
- 900 grams/ 2 Lbs. Raw Jumbo Prawns, tails on (Or freshly cooked prawns)
- 1 teaspoon Olive Oil (if using raw prawns)
- 3 cups Lettuce, roughly chopped
- 2 Avocados, diced
- 1 Cucumber, diced
Rose Marie Sauce
- 3/4 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or Red Chilli Powder)
- 1 teaspoon Lime Juice
- If using raw prawns, heat olive oil in a skillet and cook the prawns for 3-4 minutes on each side till they turn pink. Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for sauce and refrigerate.
- When ready to assemble, add lettuce to the bottom of a glass, top with a few pieces of cucumber, avocado and finally prawns. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.
Poaching prawns: If you prefer poaching prawns instead of cooking them, add salted boiling water to prawns in a bowl and let them sit for 5-6 minutes, till the prawns turn pink.
Fresh vs. Frozen Prawns: If you happen to stay by the sea, please buy your prawns as fresh as possible and peel them at home if you can. If you don’t, then buy your prawns frozen because they will be better than the prawns that are sold seemingly fresh. Frozen prawns are frozen within a few hours of catching them. Thaw them completely before cooking.
Refrigerating: I prefer serving these cold, but its best to chill each element separately rather than assembling them and then chilling, because the sauce can pool at the bottom. The sauce can be made 4-5 days ahead and refrigerated, and the prawns stay well refrigerated once cooked for a day.
Mayonnaise: I can’t stress how important it is to use good quality mayonnaise for this recipe, and no, you can’t substitute it with greek yogurt. Either make your own at home – it’s really easy, I promise and I have an Instagram video that shows you how to make mayo, or buy mayonnaise made with whole eggs.