I think everybody and their sister has some version of shrimp cocktail. I tried to come up with a cool way to inject that Southern smack and do justice to such an iconic dish while not serving the otherwise obligatory bland, rubbery shrimp and crappy store-bought cocktail sauce circa the ’80s. The only cardinal rules are don’t overcook the shrimp and don’t be lazy and buy already peeled shrimp, because you are losing flavor and my personal trust by not cooking them in their shells.
NOTE: Shrimp come in all sizes and U-12 means you will get under 12 per pound (450 g), so pretty big. That means if you buy 21/25s you will get 21-25 per pound (450 g). Get it? The lower the number the higher your ego gets when you are making this for guests!
Lemon Shandy-Poached Peel-and-Eat Shrimp
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) liquid crab boil
- 2 tablespoons (14 g) crab boil powder (I like Zatarain’s, but Old Bay works as well)
- 2 lemons, halved, plus more for serving
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 bunch parsley
- 1 (12-ounce [355-ml]) bottle or can lemon shandy beer
- 4 cups (1 L) water
- 1 pound (454 g) U-12 shrimp with the shell on (see headnote)
- Crystal Cocktail Sauce (made with Crystal hot sauce), for serving
- In a large pot, add the liquid crab boil, crab boil powder, halved lemons, bay leaves, parsley, beer and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes to infuse all that flavor. Add the shrimp and cook uncovered for exactly 5 minutes, until the shrimp are bright pink.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 gallon (3.75 L) of ice to the pot immediately in order to stop the cooking process. Four cubes are not enough; it may seem like overkill, but it has to be enough to truly chill it almost immediately. That way the shrimp can chill in flavorful liquid versus taking them out and putting them in ice water. Once cold, remove the shrimp from the liquid and get peeling! Serve the peeled shrimp with fresh lemon and Crystal Cocktail Sauce.