Shrimp cocktail might be retro, but when done right, this party staple is never out of style. This classic version boasts big, plump, perfectly-cooked shrimp with a lemony, horseradish-spiked cocktail sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make and rivals the shrimp cocktail served at the finest restaurants and steakhouses. The key is to use jumbo shell-on shrimp and be careful not to overcook them. You want to have a timer and an ice bath ready before you start cooking; the shrimp cook in 2-4 minutes, and they need to be plunged into cold water immediately after to stop the cooking process.
For the Cocktail Sauce
3/4 cup chili sauce
2 to 3 tbsp horseradish
2 to 3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp grated onion
1/4 tsp salt
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
Finely chopped celery, optional
Lettuce, for serving, optional
Prepare the Shrimp: In a medium pot, combine the lemon, parsley, onion, peppercorns, and salt and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water and set it next to the sink. Bring to a boil and add the shrimp. Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size, until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Do not overcook. Drain the shrimp in a colander and then immediately plunge them into the ice water to shock them and stop the cooking process. Let sit until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Peel the shrimp, leaving just the tails attached. Transfer to a platter filled with crushed ice, if using, and serve with cocktail sauce on the side.
Make the Cocktail Sauce: Combine all cocktail sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Mix and refrigerate.
To serve as individual appetizers, mix shrimp with finely chopped celery (if desired) and serve in lettuce-lined sherbet glasses. For a party snack, fill a large bowl with crushed ice and center with a small bowl of cocktail sauce; arrange shrimp over ice. Top with finely diced celery (if desired). Serve with wooden picks for dipping shrimp into sauce