Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Seafood Cocktail

While this might seem odd, when I think of seafood cocktail, I think of the UK and Switzerland. Yes, yes, I said it was odd - bear with me.

Back in 1983, I connived a free trip to London from my Dad, who needed to go there for business. While in London, he left me in the care of his business associate's wife, June, and their daughter Elizabeth, who treated me to a tour of the Barbican, the British Museum, and a West End show (Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Song and Dance." Horr. I. Ble.). In between activities, we ate at the Swiss Centre, where I had my first shrimp cocktail of the trip. While the words "shrimp cocktail" usually conjure up an image of large shrimp arranged daintily around the edge of a stemmed goblet, at the center of which is a dipping sauce comprising ketchup, horseradish, and lemon, this cocktail involved shrimp coated in a creamy pink Louis-style sauce that reminded me of Thousand Island dressing. What was more unusual, however, was the quantity of corn kernels arranged beneath the shrimp. I devoured it; what originally seemed like a bizarre combination somehow worked.

A few days later, Dad and I took a train to Wales. We were met in Cardiff by Mr Gregory, another business associate, who whisked us off to an enchanting thatched-roof pub somewhere in the nearby countryside where I dined once again on a Louis-based seafood cocktail, this time substituting crab for the shrimp and omitting the corn. When his wife Rhiannon and I ended up in the same pub the very next day, I ordered the crab Louis again. There is just something about that mayonnaise-based sauce that enhances the seafood better than the usual sharp red sauce, and now it is my preference.

With three types of shellfish in the freezer, I thought I'd whip up a Swiss-style seafood Louis for a refreshing hot-weather supper. While most Louis recipes call for chili sauce (which creates the pink hue), I find that equal parts ketchup and jarred tomato salsa make a more than adequate substitute. Plus those two items are more likely to be in my pantry.

Seafood Louis

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
4 teaspoons salsa
1 tablespoon finely minced green onions
1 teaspoon wasabi powder (or more to taste)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
couple dashes Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all ingredients in a large bowl, adding more wasabi and lime if you want it more spicy or tart. Refrigerate until ready to use.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely minced
6 ounces raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 ounces small scallops
6 ounces langoustine or crawfish tails

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat and add the oil and garlic. Stir until garlic is fragrant and add shrimp and scallops. Cook until seafood is opaque, about 5 minutes, and add langoustine tails, stirring to coat in pan juices. Remove seafood from pan and allow to come to room temperature. Reserve any pan juices that accumulate.

When seafood has cooled down, stir any reserved juices into prepared Louis sauce. Add seafood to sauce and toss well. Refrigerate for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.

To serve:
1 cup fresh corn kernels, steamed, or frozen and thawed, drained in a colander.

Arrange a layer of lettuce in a goblet or bowl. Top with a layer of corn, followed by the chilled seafood mixture. Serves 4.

Posted by theminx on

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