This prawn and avocado cocktail is the perfect starter for a dinner party: it’s light, tasty, sophisticated, the different tastes are well balanced, it looks great, easy to prepare (most of it) upfront and not very difficult to make. We all know the good old 80’s retro prawn cocktail with lettuce, mayo, tomato sauce mixed with a dash of cognac. Well, this version is based on the classic recipe, but than more modern and (I think) a bit more interesting. Also, I do shortly fry or grill the prawns just before serving, what I like usually more than when the prawns are cold and just cooked. My inspiration for this starter comes from the Pot Luck Club in Woodstock, Cape Town (the second restaurant of Luke Dale-Roberts from Test Kitchen). We once had something similar at the Pot Luck Club, what I photographed (see below, sorry for the bad photo) and wherefrom I wrote down a few ingredients down in a notebook. I changed it bit, did add a few more ingredients and left some others out, and here it is: my version of the Prawn & Avo Cocktail – New Style.
Serves 4 (starters)
for the salad:
2 little gems (romain lettuce)
1 ripe avocado
12 cm cucumber
8-12 raw tiger prawns (2 or 3 prawns per person, depending on how big they are)
1 clove of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, dry roasted
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
optional: eatable flowers, some bean sprouts or shoot vegetables to garnish
for the cocktail sauce:
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2 tablespoons mayonaise
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons yoghurt (or a dash of cream)
dash of cognac (or whiskey)
2 teaspoons paprika powder
1 teaspoon cayenne powder (or Tabasco)
few drops of Worcester-sauce
pepper and salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives
optional: some bread or crostini to serve with
Serve: in a cocktail glass, tumbler or on a starter plate
Take the prawns out of the fridge an hour before serving, so they will be room temperature. Remove the heads, the shells and devein the present vein in the upper part of the flesh. You can do this with the tip of a sharp knife.
Peel the grapefruit and remove the white from the pulp. Take out the segments of the fruit, using a sharp knife. Work above a bowl so you’ll catch the natural fruit juices. If the segments are big, halve them. If it’s a normal or small size grapefruit just leave them whole.
Wash the little gem lettuce and dry well with kitchen paper. Cut away the hard root and tear apart the lettuce leaves. If necessary take of the few outside leaves of the lettuce as well.
Slice the cucumber lengthwise with a slicer or mandolin. Don’t use the outside skin of the cucumber and the seeds. If you don’t have a sharp slicer or mandolin, cucumber cubes will do too.
Finely chop the red chilli pepper in small strings.
Crush and finely chop the garlic clove (this is for frying the prawns later).
Dry roast the sesame seeds in a small pan and set aside for later.
Make the cocktail sauce: whisk together mayonaise, tomato sauce, yoghurt, lemon juice, cognac, paprika, cayenne powder (or Tabasco), Worcester-sauce, pepper and salt. Taste and season more if necessary. Also add the chopped chives.
Peel the avocado, and cut lengthwise. If it’s a huge avo, halve the strips so they will fit in your tumbler or glass. Season with a bit of sea salt, pepper or cayenne powder. Drizzle a bit of lemon juice over the avo when you don’t serve immediately (to keep it from turning brown).
Take your prawns and dry them well with kitchen paper. Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium to high heat with some vegetable or peanut oil. Fry the prawns for about 2 minutes. Then add the finely chopped garlic and stir and shake in for an extra 1-2 minutes.
Divide about 3-4 lettuce leaves per person in the cocktail glasses or on the plates. Drizzle some of the saved grapefruit juice over it. Add and divide the red chilli pepper, the grapefruit segment, avocado, spring onion, warm prawns to it, and then drizzle the cocktail sauce nicely over. Garnish with the roasted sesame seeds, eatable flowers and bean sprouts.
How fancy is this starter? Perfect for a dinner party!
Inspiration avo, cucumber, prawn, chilli and sprouts salad at the Pot Luck Club.