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Shrimp Cocktail

Going back to the basics always hits the spot for me. Those tried-and-true classic comfort food dishes we all know so well and grew up with. Peanut Butter ‘n Jelly and BLT Sandwiches. Pot Roast. Chicken Noodle Soup. Banana Split. You know, them kinda’ always satisfying All-American good eats.

When it comes to appetizers, one of my all-time favorites ever since I was a little kid is Shrimp Cocktail. Probably because we traveled a lot, being my mom worked pretty much her whole career and retired from Hawaiian Airlines. Make that 38 years of service for HAL to be exact.

Also equally notable, my dad began his career as a Hilo, Hawaii county police officer (and decorated marksman), then afterwards earning his MBA from the University of Hawaii, where in time becoming the Executive Director for the State of Hawaii Department of Agriculture. From there, my dad went on to serve as the Executive Manager for what was titled back in the late 70’s through 80’s and early 90’s as the Papaya Administrative Committee, a federally-funded management and mass-marketing entity representing all the Papaya farmers in the state of Hawaii.

And no matter where we were in the world promoting Hawaii’s Papayas and what not (which I suppose you could say I’m following in his footsteps with this blog), whether it be Japan, the greater part of Asia or Europe, the hotel restaurants we dined in usually had Shrimp Cocktail on the menu, which I always ordered.

What I love about shrimp cocktail is the simplicity of the dish, yet the sauce is what makes it truly special. You get that fatty-rich shellfish, almost lobster-like taste of the just-cooked-tender shrimp tail, combined with the tomato sauce-meets-horseradish-meets-sugar-meets-Worcestershire-meets-lemon-meets-chili-peppery KICK from the Cocktail dipping sauce, and BOOM! BAM! “Whoomp, there it is“.

Like Wasabi with Shoyu for Sashimi, No “scade” on the Horseradish in the Ketchup for Shrimp Cocktail for the full effect “kick”. CHOKE ‘EM! LOVE THAT.

Usually I buy the frozen U-31/40 medium size uncooked, peeled and deveined shrimp from Costco.You’re probably thinking those are too small, but I prefer them “popper” size.

To cook it, I let it thaw out overnight (very important) , then steam it in a small pot for approximately 3 minutes, or until they’re all red on the tail and white throughout the tail meat. As soon as they’re cooked through, I shock them in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process, as you don’t want overcooked shrimp, lest it’ll become rubbery. The ice water shock also preserves the vibrant color of the shrimp (or vegetables, if that’s what you were cooking).

Sometimes though I’ll buy the ones already cooked and thawed when I want to eat Shrimp Cocktail like NOW.

Sometimes I’ll also buy Shrimp Cocktail from Costco, good-to-go…

Man, that looks like a FEAST right there. Shrimp Cocktail and Ribeye Steak? Come on now! Too bad I can’t eat the steak right now.

The Cocktail Sauce that comes with Costco’s deli Shrimp Cocktail tastes like your standard store-bought Cocktail Sauce, which works for me. However I sometimes make my own Cocktail Sauce by mixing Heinz Ketchup with LOTS of bottled Horseradish (don’t use the creamy one, it doesn’t work), Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water, Honey, Brown Cane Sugar, Worcestershire Sauce, Lemon Juice and black pepper. Easy and much better, as I really kick it up with the acidity from the lemon and heat from the Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water (Watah) and fresh-cracked black.

As for nutritional value, WHFoods.com (World’s Healthiest Foods) states, “Our food ranking system qualified shrimp as an excellent source of selenium and unusually low-fat, low-calorie protein–a four ounce serving of shrimp supplies 23.7 grams of protein (that’s 47.4% of the daily value for protein) for a mere 112 calories and less than a gram of fat. Shrimp also emerged as a very good source of vitamin B12.”

Additionally noting, “Shrimp are also a good source of cardio-protective omega-3 fatty acids, noted for their anti-inflammatory effects and ability to prevent the formation of blood clots. Four ounces of shrimp provide 14.8% of your daily need for these protective fats.”

Shrimp Cocktail. Ono stuff!!!

Speaking of seafood appetizers and pupus, I picked up this tray of Smoked Ahi Poke from the Tropics Fish & Vegetable tent at the KCC Farmers Market several weeks ago…

Sample some, cuz…

Dude. Dude. DUDE!!! Brah, seriously broke da’ mout’ WINNAHZ!!! Perfect level of smoke, perfect toughness in texture, with just enough bite. Yet still having enough chew, along with a slight shoyu-sugar marinade goin’ on, permeating just deep enough, rounding it out with a kick of ginger and sesame.I actually prefer Marlin over Ahi for smoked fish, but the way Tropics does this here Smoked Ahi Poke overshadows any prejudice towards Marlin. Sshh.

This is like seriously mean, brah, MEAN. 10 Ume Musubi for Tropic’s Smoked Ahi Poke.

And what goes best with either of these two fantastic pupu delights? Why a Blue Moon with Orange slice of course!!!

P.S. Time for today’s weigh-in…

Pomai’s “Revolution 2012″ weight log**
5.05.12 – 207.0 lbs.
5.27.12 – 195.8 lbs.
6.02.12 – 194.6 lbs.
6.03.12 – 194.0 lbs.
6.09.12 – 191.4 lbs.
6.16.12 – 188.6 lbs.
6.23.12 – 189.8 lbs.
6.30.12 – 188.5 lbs.
7.05.12 – 187.5 lbs.
7.22.12 – 183.0 lbs. (BMI score = 27)

Target weight for 7.30.12 – 180 lbs.
Final target weight – 160 lbs.
**5’9″ height, male.

I have a feeling that 3 pounds to lose in just over a week is going to be really tough. Gotta’ hold back on them Blue Moons.


13 thoughts on “Shrimp Cocktail

  • July 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    After viewing Alton Brown’s broiled version, I’m now a convert…

    • July 22, 2012 at 9:17 pm

      While I love Alton Brown’s GOOD EATS shows, he obviously goes way too “McGyver” for the sake of TV ratings. Purely entertaining, but hardly practical from a real-life kitchen/cooking standpoint.

  • July 22, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Actually, now you broke through that plateau, the next 3 should be easy. just do not break the diet.
    NO Starches, no dried/salted foods, no nuts.

    • July 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm

      What I’m currently experiencing, believe it or not, is that the MORE I eat at this stage, the more I lose. I’m talking not just a tad, but A LOT. Which I mean GOOD food for you, not CRAP. Primarily seafood, brown rice, 100% whole wheat bread and pasta, plus a majority vegetables and fruit. It goes to show the body – at least for men – truly goes into “survival mode” when we don’t eat, storing more fat than burnt from a metabolic standpoint when we don’t exercise. Now that I’m clocking in over 2 miles a day-PLUS in total distance ran and walked, my body is making optimal use of those calories I consume, quicker going into physical fat-burning cell mode. Lookin’ good, I must admit.

      As for diet, I find Chinese Cabbage such as Choy Sum and Pak Choy particularly beneficial in my weight-loss effort, where I replace that over lettuce in salads. I think the darker the green the better. Still “pounding’ gallons of EGCG-rich Japanese Green Tea. Love the stuff!

      I also don’t restrict myself from a dietary standpoint. If I want to eat meat, I’ll eat it. Just so happens I don’t crave it, so don’t. For me it’s all about being real world practical, not ethical or scientific in any regard. While I take diet seriously, being physically active is my highest priority, and it seems to be working.

  • July 23, 2012 at 12:15 am

    I must admit, I’ve never tried steaming them. I usually get a big pot of water, 4-6 quarts, to a hard rolling boil with a couple of halves lemons. Take the water off the heat, throw the shrimp in and give it a quick stir (like 6-8 secs). Then I immediately dump the water and strain the shrimp, and then shock them in an ice water bath. Shrimp usually comes out just perfect. Al dente with a tender snap. And if you’re using the 2 lb frozen 31/40 costco sized bag, 6 quarts is more than enough water to do the whole bag in one batch. But the costco pre-made platter is so easy and good, I don’t bother doing it myself most of the time.

    • July 23, 2012 at 5:51 am

      I pretty much avoid boiling anything I rely on for its total flavor. Potatoes, sure. Shrimp, no. It takes several minutes (or more, depending how much water) to get the water boiling, which makes it not any more energy-efficient. You can get a scorching hot steam easily under a minute using minimal water (like about a cup). I’ve even cooked the shrimp with no water at all, letting it steam in its own juices, along with a splash of white wine. Either way works.

  • July 24, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Shrimp cocktail is one of my favorite appetizers! It must be from growing up in Los Angeles and one of my family’s traditions. We always had shrimp cocktail and prime rib for Christmas along with having shrimp cocktail for our Japanese New Year’s celebration along with whenever my Mom felt like making it.

    I never thought about it and you’re right I’ve had shrimp cocktail all over the world even on a JAL flight to Tokyo.

    My Mom always boiled them and that was just fine. I’ve tried steaming them, broiling them with some rock salt, on the cue but my favorite is to make a solution similar to a crab boil. Water, lemons, onions, garlic, pepper corns, salt and Old Bay. Get that boiling for about 15 minutes, drop in 21/25 count shrimp shells on, cook and into the ice water bath. Of course you have to make your own cocktail sauce. I make my the same way with finely chopped onions and celery minus the Hawaiian chili water, sugar and honey. I totally agree that horseradish sauce is like Arby’s ‘Horsey Sauce’ Here in Japan I can’t find horseradish so of course I used wasabi and that worked okay. I tried using ‘fresh’ wasabi and that was really good. However, the fresh wasabi was 4 times more expensive than the shrimp. LOL! Now you did it I’m going to have to make some shrimp cocktail tomorrow!

    P.S. Thanks for the info on the Korean metal chopsticks and chawan! Very interesting. Maybe instead of using darts at the balloon pop game they can use metal chopsticks.

    • July 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm

      Milo, I forgot to mention that I’ve made Cocktail sauce using freshly-grated Horseradish as well, and it turned out awesome! Next time I do that, I’ll blog it, as I want to try making Shrimp Cocktail with the Farm-raised shrimp from Kauai that they’re currently selling at Costco here on Oahu.

      Does the lemon, onions, garlic and old bay seasoning actually stay on the shrimp, even after the ice shock? I’d think most of it would wash off. Then again, you’re boiling them with the shells on, so perhaps those flavors stay within the shell and meat under it. But yeah, most DEFINITELY I use plenty of squeezed lemon on my shrimp tails before it hits the sauce. Love that tangy edge it gives.

      I tried using Wasabi once to make Cocktail sauce, but I think the powdered one I was using had salt in it. I dunno’, it turned out salty. Was weird. I’ll try it again using the squeeze-tube stuff.

      Shrimp Cocktail followed by Prime Rib, eh? Damned I wish I could eat that right now! Upon reaching my weight goal, that’s the FIRST thing I’m firin’ up in my oven!

      • July 28, 2012 at 8:22 pm

        The powdered wasabi is really dyed mustard.
        The weird thing is you can get better wasabi from Oregon now than Japan.

        • July 28, 2012 at 8:26 pm

          Pat, VERY interesting!

          Here’s what I found regarding Oregon-produced Wasabi, courtesy of “Google Fu”…

          Frog Eyes Wasabi producer in Oregon



          I was just at the KCC Farmers Market this morning, and there was the usual local produce vendors. However, I have yet to see a local supplier show up with locally-grown Wasabi. Or Horseradish for that matter. I’ll need to research the needs of Wasabi root from a horticultural standpoint to fully understand the dynamics of growing it.

          Mahalo for inspiring me to think more deeply about a food item (condiment) we typically take for granted.

          Bus’ out da’ AHI SASHIMI and CHOKE DA’ WASABI-SHOYU ACTION!!!

          • July 29, 2012 at 6:59 am

            Recently we ran across a Beaver Brand (from Beaverton, Oregon) Wasabi, Mustard, Horseradish. With real wasabi, Oregon grown. Bought it, but haven’t tried it yet. my wife intends to try with her beloved Salmon sashimi.

  • July 29, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Pat, no offense, but all this time I thought you were a “she”. Yet not to fret, as I too have also been confused by some of my readers as being a “she”. That is until I finally posted a photo of myself. Like you, believe me, I’m SO not a SHE. LOL!!!

    But wow, imagine the “kick” from that trio of Wasabi, Mustard AND Horseradish. My sinuses are cleared just thinking about it!

    Speaking of mustard, Coleman’s Mustard (the powdered stuff) has quite the Wasabi-like kick, and is THE one used as a condiment as standard at most Chinese restaurants. I’m quite sure that marriage happened as a result of the British rule of Hong Kong, which was only relinquished back to mainland China governance recently. LOVE Coleman’s Mustard and Shoyu with Sashimi. Winnahz!

  • April 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Cooks use the terms “horseradish” or “prepared horseradish” to refer to the grated root of the horseradish plant mixed with vinegar. Prepared horseradish is white to creamy-beige in colour. It will keep for months refrigerated but eventually will darken, indicating it is losing flavour and should be replaced. The leaves of the plant, while edible, are not commonly eaten, and are referred to as “horseradish greens”.-

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