I am a massive fan of a classic prawn cocktail.
I was the wine consultant for Bibendum Restaurant for 26 years, and Simon Hopkinson’s recipe for this legendary dish is still the benchmark. He used a few subtle twists on the regular recipe, and I have adopted these tweaks. So here is a Jukes prawn cocktail with Hoppy’s two genius additions. You can serve this either as a canapé or starter.
The canapé version is below. For the starter, substitute chicory for a chopped bed of little gem lettuce and make the servings larger!
6 tablespoons of Mayonnaise (Helmann’s is fine if you don’t want to make your own)
2 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup (and Heinz is fine here, too – although I would seek out the organic version if you can)
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 Lemon - half squeezed for the sauce and the rest sliced for the garnish
Cracked black pepper
A small splash of Cognac (the first ‘Hoppy’ trick)
A good few shakes of Tabasco
A couple of heads of Chicory – gently peel away the leaves, wash and dry with kitchen roll
500gms peeled prawns
4 Spring onions – finely slice the white section after topping and tailing
10 cm length of Cucumber, peeled, halved and remove the seeds and mush by scraping a teaspoon down the centre of each halved piece of cucumber and then slice each half lengthways to make 4 batons. Then slice these across quite finely. (the second ‘Hoppy’ trick)
For the spicy sauce, combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, lemon juice, Cayenne pepper, and a good few twists of cracked black pepper in a bowl and stir well. Carefully add a few splashes of Tabasco (I am pretty heavy-handed here) and a few drops of Cognac. These are the two most potent ingredients, so be brave and taste as you go. If you overstep the mark, calm it down with more mayonnaise (and ketchup if needed). Once you have the base sauce, gently stir in the spring onions, cucumber and, lastly, the prawns.
Spoon the mixture into the chicory leaves to make bite-size (or, more accurately, two-bite) snacks. Finish with a very light dusting of Cayenne pepper.