Being food-obsessed usually means you may have strong, somewhat obnoxious opinions about any and all food-related topics that you staunchly present as facts. (Which they very well may be.) A well-done steak is a waste of good meat. Don’t refrigerate your tomatoes. There is no point to pre-ground pepper whatsoever. (Stick to your guns people.)
One such argument that I shan’t ever back down on is that pre-cooked frozen shrimp are The Worst. They are bland, they are mushy, they are evil. Especially when arranged on a plastic platter with fake lettuce and a listless jarred cocktail sauce like it’s 1992. These delightful crustaceans deserve a better fate. Down with the weak watery shrimps of yesteryear! A new reign begins — one of hope and promise and shrimp cocktail with maximum flavor.
Enter in the hero of the appetizer hour: freshly cooked shrimpies tossed in a kitchen-sink spice mix that is earthy and warm with paprika and cumin, biting with mustard and turmeric. The cocktail sauce is puckered with horseradish and boozy with mezcal — flavorful enough to stand alongside such dirty shrimps as these.
Dirty Shrimp Cocktail with Mezcal
For the Shrimp:
- 1 LB large shrimps raw, with tails. Rinsed and dried.
- 1 small shallot diced, may sub or add 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp hot spanish paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp old bay seasoning
- 1/2-1 tsp chile powder or red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp hot mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
- handful cilantro or parsley (or both!) finely chopped
- 1-2 lemons sliced into wedges
For the Cocktail Sauce:
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 TB Mezcal
- 1-1.5 TB jarred horseradish
- 1 TB honey
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- few shots tabasco
- pinch salt and pepper
For the Shrimps:
Combine ALL the spices in a small clean bowl.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with a glug of olive oil. Once the pan has warmed, add the shallot, stirring to get color.
Add the shrimp, stirring for even cooking. When the shrimps start getting pink and are just about done add the spices. Start with a teaspoon sized spoonful, stir, and add more seasoning til shrimps are well-seasoned.
Work quickly and take off the heat to prevent rubbery shrimps. Taste one and adjust to your liking. There's such a thing as over-seasoned so try to contain yourself.
Chill until ready to use.
Toss with the herbs and serve with the cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
For the Mezcal Cocktail Sauce:
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, start with just 1 TB of horseradish and then add more to taste. It's easy to go from a nice bite to completely overwhelming so best to go slow.
Refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made day or two before.
- Store extra dirty spice and sprinkle over popcorn, use for tacos, whatever your little heart desires!
- May sub tequila for mezcal