I used to work in a fish shop. During that time, I made all kinds of things: crab cakes, chowders, salmon burgers, fish pies and spice mixes. The one thing that I never got to in my tenure there was to make cocktail sauce. The idea of a roasted red pepper cocktail sauce has always lingered at the back of my mind as an option. Today, I finally did it.
Cocktail sauce is basically nothing more than a spicy ketchup. The traditional is a tomato base spiced up with horseradish. In my version, since it is a pepper base, I thought spicing it up with hot paprika would be appropriate.
The “ketchup-like” idea in cocktail sauce can be modified in any number of ways: swapping out the tomato with red pepper like I did in this or other vegetables like asparagus or grean peas for something totally different. You could also modify how it is sweetened. The normal sugar can be swapped with honey, maple syrup or other natural sweetener. Using an artificial sweetener wouldn’t work very well because the chemistry of the sugars themselves affects texture and you’d need to rethink the recipe entirely to accommodate it.
As for the shrimp today, I wanted to add more honey to the outside and nothing goes with honey like garlic. It made it like a shrimp-y chicken wing night at the local pub…without the guy screaming about football in your face haha. Enjoy!
Honey Garlic Shrimp Cocktail with Roasted Red Pepper Cocktail Sauce
For the Roasted Red Pepper Cocktail Sauce:
2 sweet red bell peppers
3-4 Tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like it, texturally the recipe will be fine either way)
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4-1/2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 190C/425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the peppers on the prepared baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes or until blackened on all sides. Remove from the oven, transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15-20 minutes to steam the skin away.
Peel away the skin, remove the stem and seeds and coarsely tear the peppers into pieces. Transfer to a blender and add the vinegar. Purée until smooth. Transfer the purée to a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the honey, nutmeg, paprika and salt and stir continuously for 15-20 minutes or until thick like a ketchup. Set aside to cool.
For the Honey Garlic Shrimp:
2 tsp cold pressed canola oil
450g/1 lb shrimp (I used 16-20 or “jumbo” shrimp), tails kept on
2 Tbsp honey
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook without moving the shrimp for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp, add the garlic and honey and simmer for another 2 minutes, flipping the shrimp periodically to coat them in the honey-garlic glaze. Set aside.
On two plates, fan out half of the prepared Honey Garlic Shrimp on each. Spoon half of the Roasted Red Pepper Cocktail Sauce into small serving bowls and place in the centre of each plate. Serves 2.