Simon Hopkinson’s prawn cocktail recipe


Serves 4
little gem lettuce hearts 2, finely shredded
mayonnaise 4–5 tbsp (see below)
tomato ketchup 1–2 tbsp, or to taste
Tabasco sauce 3–4 shakes
cognac a dribble or two
spring onions 2, trimmed and thinly sliced
cucumber ¼ small, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
prawns 400g cooked, whole shell-on, then heads removed and peeled
lemon wedges 4 small
paprika a touch

For the mayonnaise
egg yolks 2
smooth dijon mustard 2 tsp
sunflower or other neutral oil 300ml
lemon 1 large, juice of ½
extra virgin olive oil 150ml (fragrant, but not strongly flavoured)
salt and freshly ground white pepper

You will need 4 big glasses. Begin with the mayonnaise. Put the egg yolks into a roomy bowl and mix in the mustard and a little seasoning. Beginning slowly, whisk together, while very slowly trickling in the sunflower oil.

Once the mixture is becoming very thick, add a little lemon juice. Continue beating, adding the oil a little faster and increasing the beating speed. Once the oil has been used up, add some more lemon juice and then begin incorporating the olive oil until you are happy with the taste. Now add a final squeeze of lemon juice if you think it necessary. Finally, taste for seasoning, spoon into a lidded plastic pot and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Put the shredded lettuce in a small bowl, cover with cold water and a few cubes of ice; this will crisp the lettuce. Leave for a few minutes while you make the cocktail sauce. In another bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, Tabasco and cognac; the sauce should be regulation pink. Fold in the spring onions and cucumber. Put to one side.

Drain the lettuce and either spin-dry, or place on a tea towel, gently roll it up and then tip out into a bowl. Divide the lettuce into the bottom of your big glasses, top with the prawns, dividing them equally between each glass, then spoon over the cocktail sauce, allowing it to completely cover the prawns.

Carefully slide a sharp knife between the skin and flesh of the lemon wedges, but cutting only halfway through. Attach these to the rim of each glass and sprinkle the cocktail with a touch of paprika.

Brown bread and butter is, I feel, essential here.