The Great American Seafood Cook off 2008 is right around the corner. Actually, it is this weekend, August 2-3 in New Orleans. I know, I didn’t give you much notice, but if you are in the eastern United States, you can get in your car right this very minute, and you will get there in plenty of time. Of course, you might need a shower because you drove straight through the night, but I promise you can still make it.
I have lived in three different parts of the country and the seafood is very different from region to region, not just in the selection of native species, but in the actual recipes. Whether caught off of the dock in the backyard or brought from the ocean, everyone thinks the way they prepare it is best.
One thing is pretty universal whether you are landlocked or oceanside. Every dinner party starts off with a shrimp ring. Depending on how far you are from the gulf, or from a large grocery store chain, you either get four shrimp in a wine glass for twenty bucks, or get several pounds on ice with a saucer of cocktail sauce for the same price.
I always wonder why something simple is so easy to ruin. The standby for restaurants is to slather them with Old Bay seasoning and serve them peel and eat style. That may be fine, but it necessitates a trip to the bathroom to scrub your fingernails. Certainly, this is not a matter for business lunches or blind dates.
The other popular way is to serve it with cocktail sauce. The last time I went to the store, I was amazed at how much sodium was in cocktail sauce! One had 900 mg, and one had 650 per serving size, which was basically a spoonful. By the time you ate a real serving, a doctor would come to the table and prescribe you blood pressure medicine on the spot.
The simplest recipe I have found is as follows:
Buy a jar of horseradish
Put the ketchup on a dish and mix horseradish to taste.
Do not do this in any greater than a one to four ratio or you will burn your mouth out. It is better to add a smaller amount and increase it. Your guests will tell you that its the best cocktail sauce they have had in a long time, as their bodies do not know what hit them without having xanthan gum and the like to contend with, but don’t tell them its just ketchup.
Do you have any other ideas that you have used to improve on the ever popular “peel and eat” shrimp or shrimp cocktail concept, or is this something so perfected and simple there is just no variation? I wonder if the chefs at the CookOff would come up with something that a regular person could tackle. Maybe they would be bored or would really be itching to make something more complicated than that. I certainly think that if I showed up with my ketchup packets and little jar of horseradish, they would wonder how I actually thought I would be taken seriously. Little do they know that is really just about my speed.
What would your take on an old standby be?