Deconstructed Shrimp Cocktail

Shrimp cocktail is a dish that I will never be able to shake. No matter where you go or what kitchen you work in, someone is going to want shrimp cocktail. So, might as well make it interesting.

This is poached shrimp with horseradish royale, tomato syrup, candied lemon zest and local micro greens. I usually wouldn’t list “microgreens” as a component of the dish as they tend to be simply garnish, but these microgreens work really well with the dish. It’s a combination of micro broccoli, mustard and beet that tastes very much like horseradish. They look great and work really well with the flavors of the dish. I purchased these from Lucky Leaf Farms outside of Charlotte.

The shrimp that I used are U-10 sized, which means they are “under ten” per pound. So whenever you hear U- anything, the lower the number the larger the ingredient is. I poached these slowly in a court bouillion with mirepoix, salt, white wine, lemon juice, shallot, garlic and pickling spices (cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, cloves, allspice, juniper berries, whole mace, dill seed, bay leaf, dried ginger). Make sure that you always place your aromatics in a sachet unless you enjoy picking them out of your food later or you just really want to buy your dentist a new boat.

When poaching shrimp you’ll want to add all of the ingredients to the court bouillion, then bring it just to a simmer (212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level). Add the shrimp to the poaching liquid, then cook until they turn pink and curl. When you feel the shrimp they should be tender but firm. When they reach this point pull them out and straight into ice water to completely stop the cooking process. Once the shrimp come out of the ice water pat them dry.

The tomato syrup is outstanding. It’s basically a gastrique, a syrup made from a reduction of an acid and caramel. You’ll want to place two sauce pots on the stove; in one, begin a reduction of tomatoes (preferably romas), garlic, shallots, fresh basil, and dried thai chilis. In the other pot prepare a caramel with granulated white sugar.

Cook the tomatoes down until they have released their liquid and have cooked down by half. Bring your caramel up to an amber color then add the tomato reduction to the caramel. Reduce by half then strain through a fine chinois. Then season to taste with kosher salt. The end result is much like Mae Ploy thai chili sauce.

The horseradish royale is as follows:


Heavy Cream 8 fl oz.

Fresh Horseradish 2 oz., grated

Gelatine Leaf 2 ea, bloomed in cold water

Crème Fraiche 8 fl oz.


-Heat the heavy cream gently in a double boiler with the freshly grated horseradish so the cream can infuse with the flavor of the horseradish.

-After the gelatin has bloomed in cold water until soft, add the gelatin sheets to the horseradish and fold with a spatula until the gelatin is thoroughly incorporated.

-Strain the cream through a fine chinois to remove the horseradish and any possible lumps of gelatin.

-Fold the cream into the crème fraiche, then pour the mixture into any mold that you wish for it to set up in. Refrigerate until it has firmed.

The final result with the shrimp, the tomato syrup, the horseradish royale and the candied lemon zest is pretty phenomenal. It has the components of the classical shrimp cocktail, with the syrup and royale acting like a deconstructed and far more interesting, cocktail sauce.

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