Add a tropical recipe twist to your holiday menu with this Shrimp Cocktail with Dragon Fruit. Inspired by a Mexican shrimp cocktail with avocado and Tabasco, discover the extra ingredients in an easy homemade mayonnaise that create the perfect balance of intrigue, flavours and textures.
Is Shrimp Cocktail the Same as Prawn Cocktail?
Shrimp and prawns are the same thing. Shrimp is simply the name given in America, while in the UK, they're called prawns. In France, it's easy - as they're just called crevettes. To make a cocktail, either use whole small shrimp or cut them up into pieces if using huge, juicy shrimp or prawns.
What Nationality is Shrimp Cocktail?
It's a classic starter or festive appetizer that was all the rage in the 1970s and 1980s in both the UK and in the USA - and its popularity is making a welcome comeback.
It was our go-to starter in Scotland for Christmas every year so, growing up with these deliciously happy memories, I had to make a French version for my family here in Paris.
Call me old-fashioned but this is now our go-to recipe on our Christmas appetizer menu. It's not just retro and sentimental but the tropical twist with dragon fruit makes an exciting fusion of flavours and textures.
Inspired by Mexican cuisine with creamy avocado and a few drops of Tabasco, this French touch of adding tropical fruits is typically festive in France. Even King Louis XIV would have approved - he enjoyed luxurious fruits as part of an entrée, the French synonym of the starter (UK) or appetizer (USA), as it was the perfect time to digest. So there you go; just a fruitful gem we picked up at the King's Vegetable Garden in Versailles (potager du roi).
Are Shrimps/Prawns Cooked?
For a cocktail appetizer (French 'entrée'), shrimps or prawns are always precooked. Just buy them fresh and pre-cooked - even if frozen (then defrost). It's easy to spot as cooked prawns are always pink.
How to Boil Shrimp for a Cocktail
If buying fresh shrimp for a prawn cocktail, it's easy to tell when they're cooked. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil then turn down to a simmer. Plop in your fresh grey shrimp and leave to boil for about 5 minutes, depending on their size. If slightly larger, then leave in boiling water for about 7 minutes. As a general rule of thumb, your shrimp are cooked when they've turned pink.
Remove with a slotted spoon from the boiling water, leave to cool then shell them ready for use. They are served chilled.
What's in this Shrimp Cocktail?
Forget the old-school Marie-Rose sauce and lettuce - we're taking this classic shrimp cocktail recipe to the next level!
Instead of the usual ingredients (prawns tossed in store-bought mayonnaise/salad cream with ketchup), we're mixing succulent shrimp with finely chopped dragon fruit, tart apple, creamy avocado and shallots.
All of this mixture is coated in a light and zesty wasabi mayonnaise, a squeeze of lime juice, and finished off with a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) and mint. Plus add an extra kick of Tabasco to tickle the festive tastebuds.
We love experimenting with recipes, but trust me, this one is worth sticking to! Don't skip the shallots - they add that extra pop of flavour. If you don't have shallots on hand, a small red onion will do the trick. Just make sure to slice it thinly.
Although cilantro/coriander is fabulous, many of you may not like it so just use fresh parsley and up the mint.
Can't find dragon fruit? No worries! Kiwi fruits or pink grapefruit ares fantastic substitutes. The sharper and fresher, the better. You'll still get that perfect balance of sweetness and acidity that makes this shrimp cocktail shine.
What Does Dragon Fruit Taste Like?
Dragon fruit, aka 'pitaya', tastes like a sweet and slightly tangy kiwi fruit. It's incredibly subtle in flavour and particularly juicy in texture.
There are two kinds of dragon fruit: the red is slightly sweeter while the yellow has a more subtle flavour. Both work well in this recipe so it's up to you.
Its addition to this shrimp cocktail creates a healthy, delicious contrast between the sweetness of the dragon fruit, creamy avocado, the juicy shrimp with lime zing and tart apple crunch. It may sound corny (we are in the spirit of UK Christmas crackers and corny jokes), when I say it's a match made in culinary heaven. But it's true!
How to Make Prawn Cocktail Sauce
Let's talk about the sauce. To create the ultimate prawn cocktail sauce, I recommend making your own homemade mayonnaise. But here's the twist - we're adding a kick of wasabi! Don't worry, it's not overpowering, just enough to give your taste buds a subtle, playful surprise.
Picture pistachio, coconut and wasabi ice cream - intriguing, right? If you prefer to skip the wasabi, go ahead, but I encourage you to give it a little taste before deciding.
How to Present Shrimp Cocktail
Since shrimp cocktail is typically served as a Christmas appetizer or starter, add a touch of wow factor to your presentation.
For a fun and festive twist: slice your dragon fruit in half horizontally, scoop out the fruit, and serve the cocktail inside the dragon fruit shell.
Prefer a classic look? Serve in cocktail glasses (hence the name): garnish with a lime wedge, a slice of dragon fruit, or an extra shrimp. Plus, for those extra special occasions, add a little citrus caviar (finger limes). A sprinkle of their mini pearls gives the ultimate wow factor.
Can Shrimp Cocktail Be Frozen?
This does not freeze well. Although this shrimp cocktail can be prepared a day in advance. Just chill in the fridge until ready to serve.
Should it Be Served Cold?
Ideally, shrimp cocktail is served chilled. To really appreciate all the flavours at their best, remove from the fridge 10 minutes before ready to serve.
What Goes with Shrimp Cocktail?
It also goes best with Champagne or dry sparkling wine for an extra bubbling spirit. If you find citrus caviar, drop a few pearls in the bubbles! It's the perfect way to elevate your shrimp cocktail to new heights of indulgence. Or even serve with the classic French 75 Cocktail from Paris.
Otherwise serve with a chilled white Chardonnay or Voignier wine, bringing out the fruity flavours in the dish. Although this is just great on its own, you may prefer to serve this with a baguette or small toasted slices of bread.
This playful twist on the popular shrimp cocktail classic will have your guests asking for the secret ingredients. So, embrace the retro vibes with this dragon fruit twist to take your holiday menu on a new nostalgic trip.
Shrimp Cocktail with Dragon Fruit
- 400 g (14oz/ 4 cups) pre-cooked fresh or defrosted shrimp/prawns cut into pieces if large
- 2 large dragon fruit finely chopped (see notes)
- 1 avocado finely chopped
- 1 apple Granny smith or other tart apple
- 2 pink shallots finely chopped
- 1 quantity wasabi mayonnaise see recipe below
- ¼ teaspoon tabasco green
- 1 lime juice only
- 2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves finely chopped (or parsley/chives)
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves finely chopped
- First make the wasabi mayonnaise - see recipe below.
- Cut up all the ingredients into small pieces and add to a big bowl. Stir in the wasabi mayonnaise and lime juice. Add a few drops of tabasco (or more wasabi) according to your taste then stir in the chopped fresh coriander and mint.
- 2 egg yolks at room temperature
- 1-2 teaspoon wasabi paste according to taste
- ½ tsp salt (fleur de sel, Celtic salt or Maldon)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 200 ml (7 fl oz/ 0.8 cup) olive oil (or sunflower, avocado, raisin oil)
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, salt and wasabi paste with a balloon whisk. until light and creamy.
- Add the white wine vinegar and gradually trickle in the oil. Continue to whisk vigorously for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens. Adjust the amount of wasabi according to taste then whisk in the lime juice.