Prawn cocktail

Prawn Cocktail


Serves 4
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 300mls sunflower or other neutral oil
  • 150mls extra virgin olive oil [fragrant, but not strongly flavoured]
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon
  • the hearts of 2 little gem lettuces, finely shredded
  • 3-4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato ketchup, or to taste
  • 3-4 shakes Tabasco
  • a dribble or two of Cognac
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small cucumber, peeled, de-seeded and finely diced
  • 400g cooked, whole shell-on prawns, heads removed, and peeled
  • 4 small lemon wedges
  • touch of paprika


  1. Begin with the mayonnaise. Put the egg yolks into a roomy bowl and mix in the mustard and a little seasoning. Beginning slowly, beat together while very slowly trickling in the neutral oil. (Electric Whisk)
  2. 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.  
  3.  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.
  4. Now add a final squeeze of lemon juice if you think it necessary. Finally, taste for seasoning, spoon 
  5. Decant three tablespoons of your fresh mayonnaise into a bowl, and put the remainder into a lidded plastic pot and keep in the fridge for another day. Mix into the mayonnaise the ketchup, Tabasco and Cognac; it should be regulation pink. 
  6. Drain the lettuce and either spin-dry, or place on a tea towel, gently roll it up and then tip out into a bowl. 

           Assembling the dish: 

  1. Divide the lettuce into the bottom of four big wine glasses [traditionally], top with the spring onions and cucumber, then a dollop of the cocktail sauce before you lay over the prawns, dividing them equally between each glass. A final generous spoonful of sauce on each glass should completely cover the prawns. 
  2. Carefully slide a sharp knife between the skin and flesh of the lemon wedges, but cutting only half-way 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.