English Prawn Cocktail
Shrimp cocktail in England is different than in North America. In England it’s called Prawn Cocktail and they use a different sauce, among other things. Learn how to make it here!
I’ve been doing a shrimp cocktail extravaganza on this site lately. It’s because I love shrimp cocktail so much and think it’s so perfect for the holiday season. Shrimp are a special, celebratory food, and shrimp cocktail is so easy and great as a finger food for large and small gatherings alike.
I showed you how to cook shrimp for making shrimp cocktail. Poaching is the way to go (and is possibly my favorite way to cook shrimp anyhow!). I also made a basic homemade cocktail sauce for you, and a kicked up Sriracha-Balsamic version. There’s a post about how to make the perfect shrimp cocktail too with lots of tips and tricks. And then, finally, a shared a recipe for Marie Rose Sauce.
What is Marie Rose Sauce? I thought you’d never ask. It’s a mayonnaise-based sauce that is used in the British version of shrimp cocktail. They don’t use the red one made of (mostly) ketchup and horseradish sauce that we use. Instead, it’s a creamy, pale pink sauce.
In England they call it Prawn Cocktail, not Shrimp Cocktail. We could get into a whole thing here about the difference between prawns and shrimp but we won’t. (They’re actually different species but the names are used somewhat interchangeably with more people in Australia and England saying prawn, and more people in North American saying shrimp. Some people think that prawns are bigger than shrimp and that’s the difference between them. It might be true that many people use the terms that way, prawns for big, honking ones and shrimp for small, dainty ones. But actually, you can get big and small shrimp and you can get big and small prawns. I think in this case it just comes down to different countries preferring different terms, not to any real substantive difference).
So the name is different, and the sauce is different. Is there anything else that makes the English seafood cocktail different from the North American one? Yes, actually. The North American one is served just as is, with the shrimp cold and ready to be dipped into the sauce. For the English Prawn cocktail, the sauce can be served as a dip or the prawns can be mixed with the sauce. Either option is possible. Also, the English one is often (though not always) served with avocado. The avocado can either be chopped up, sliced or sometimes the sauced shrimp are served inside a halved avocado like this). Finally, prawn cocktail is traditionally served with some buttered whole wheat bread. I’m not entirely sure why but it really works. Maybe it’s the mayonnaise-based sauce which makes it so bread-worthy. Whatever. It’s delicious.
That’s it then. The difference between prawn and shrimp cocktail. And now you know now to make British Prawn Cocktail. No need to fly across the ocean to do it! The recipe is below.
Shrimp cocktail in England is different than in North America. In England it’s called Prawn Cocktail and they use a different sauce, among other things.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1/4 tsp. hot sauce, like Tabasco (optional)
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 20 large cooked shrimp, deveined, peeled but with tail on (buy them already cooked or learn how here)
- 8 small butter lettuce or romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and cubed (learn how to cut an avocado here)
- 4 slices of buttered whole wheat bread, quartered
- lemon wedges for optional garnish
- In a small bowl combine the mayonnaise, ketchup and salt. Taste.
- Add any or all of the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and cayenne pepper. Stir.
- Put two lettuce leaves into each of four small serving bowls (martini glasses are great for this!).
- Top each set of lettuce leaves with 1/4 of the avocado cubes. Drizzle each with 1/4 of the sauce.
- Hook shrimp around the edges of the serving bowls, 5 shrimp per bowl.
- Put each serving bowl onto a plate. Onto each plate plate put 4 quarters of buttered bread. Top avocado with a lemon wedge, if desired.