So I need to preface this with a story, in case I didn’t mention it earlier:
A few weeks ago (a little over a month ago) I was getting excited to go to the US and talking about it in my classes, since most of them would have a break for a week or two while I was gone.
In one class, my students asked me what I was going to buy and bring back. I said ‘cocktail sauce’. This spawned a discussion that turned into an argument about the German people having cocktail sauce.
Before I go further, it’s important to mention that I live in a city that is 100% land-locked. Yes, we can drive (or fly) to the ocean, but it’s not as short as driving to Ocean City from Baltimore. It would take at least a half-day if not more.
So the student that asked said to me ‘that’s silly, you can buy cocktail saice here’, and I kind of laughed at him. Since deciding that we were going to go with more seafood, I’ve been totally hunting for shrimp to steam. Which is (unsurprisingly) not easy when you live nowhere near water of the oceanic variety. So I’d been looking for a few weeks and hadn’t found anything overly amazing or deveined (jesus, I was spoiled by Baltimroe). I finally settled on frozen organic shrimp. Ok, fine.
So then I went looking for the cocktail sauce, since I know how to make the buttery garlicy goodness sauce myself. No where. NO. WHERE. period. I bought a few different things that LOOKED like cocktail sauce and tried them (without shrimp). They were NOT cocktail sauce.
The Germans have something called Cocktail Sauce, but it is effectively Thousand Island dressing. Which I guess is why I never see Thousand Island dressing.
Back to my student.
I laughed when he said that and said that American Cocktail sauce is different.
So he went on to laugh at me and said ‘no, you Americans eat your shrimp with ketchup’.
Which, I know, is partially true, because it’s the main ingredient in American Cocktail sauce.
I said ‘yes, but it’s not just ketchup’ and tried to explain it to him.
Then he said ‘well my father lived in the US and when I visited him when I was younger that’s what the Americans were doing’.
This guy is my dad’s age, btw.
So I asked him if he tried this ‘ketchupy stuff’ and he said no.
I had to explain to him that I knew I was right, since I spent a decade living in one of the best towns for seafood in the US, on the water, with nothing but fresh fish as far as one could drive in a day. I then went on to explain to him that the German cocktail sauce is not the same as what I am looking for.
Long story short, we agreed to disagree and I told him I’d bring him back a bottle of good, American cocktail sauce and we’d have a steamed shrimp party after their test (which will be around xmas). He was ok with that.
Of course I forgot the sauce even though we were in MANY markets during our ten days.
I came home empty-handed and told my student this, and then I found recipes. I knew it was ketchup and a few other things, but not quite sure of the amounts, etc.
I’m happy to state that cocktail sauce for shrimp is really, really (re: the title) easy to make:
Horseradish (I used the cream version but you can use the powder, apparently)
(that is the basic recipe, but it’s already great to me since it’s nowhere to be found here, not even in the ‘American’ shelf at the supermarkets… post on that coming later)
I feel like a damn culinary master.
I am TOTALLY bringing them shrimp after the test. And I will make both sauces.
Now I’m off to enjoy my post yogilates class organic shrimp and cocktail sauce.