There are a few American classics that seem never to disappoint and can be reliable standbys, especially in an uncertain place or restaurant. This should not sound equivocal, since shrimp cocktail, made in the usual way, is perfectly wonderful. In Europe cold shrimp are always served with the heads on, while in the United States they’re usually decapitated. The choice is yours. Cook the shrimp in their shells and peel them afterward so they retain more flavor.
Yield: 6 first course servings
30 large shrimp
2/3 cup ketchup
2/3 cup chili sauce
¼ cup grated horseradish from a jar, or about 2 inches fresh horseradish root, grated
1½ teaspoons Tabasco sauce, or more to taste
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges
Cook the shrimp by plunging them in about 3 quarts of boiling water and boiling for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Peel the shrimp and, if you wish, devein them. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until well chilled.
Combine the ketchup, chili sauce, horseradish, Tabasco, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Serve the sauce in small ramekins or cocktail glasses. Arrange the shrimp on the rim of cocktail stem glasses, if desired. Garnish with a lemon wedge.