lettuce

Prawn cocktail

prawn cocktail

I’m not cooking Christmas dinner this year, but if I was, this would be the starter.

It has always been tradition in our family to have something fishy to start the Christmas meal (I was simply horrified when I had Christmas dinner at my in-law’s and they served up tinned beef consomme with packet croutons – we took over the cooking after that). You may think prawn cocktail dull and old fashioned – at times I’ve thought the same – but I’ve tried alternatives and still come back to this because it’s just so damned delicious.

And this Rick Stein recipe for the Marie Rose sauce is the best one I’ve found. The secret ingredient is brandy.

I love prawns but my son is so obsessed with them that he even tried to persuade me to make prawn curry when his friend came for tea. “Mummy, J’s never had prawn curry and he really wants to try it”. Nice try Eddie – I went for Spaghetti Bolognese – but to appease him we made prawn cocktail for Saturday night’s tea and he enjoyed helping to make it (see photo below).

PS. In case you’re interested here’s a recap of some of the Christmas recipes on this blog. I made my first batch of mince pies this week and am feeling quite Christmassy (I’m currently burning cinnamon scented candles and playing the Pogues).

Christmas pudding
Mincemeat
Fudge
Christmas biscuits
Mincemeat filo cigars and no nonsense mincemeat tart
Bread sauce

Best ever prawn cocktail sauce

(from Rick Stein’s seafood lovers’ guide)

  • 8 tablespoons of mayonnaise (shop bought is fine or you can make your own)
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato ketchup
  • 4-6 shakes of tabasco sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of cognac or brandy  (cheap cooking brandy is fine)
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice

Mix up all the ingredients above and add some good quality prawns. I like little ones the best as they tend to have more flavour than larger king prawns.

Serve over thinly sliced ice berg lettuce and cucumber.

Don’t forget the retro paprika sprinkling.

prawn cocktail sauce and Eddie

Prawn lover.

 

Advertisements

Chinese chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves

chinese chicken in lettuce leaves

I asked my husband to write an introduction to this recipe. Surprisingly he obliged. He also took the photo.

“If Zoe hasn’t attended a meal out, which is rare, the first thing she has to know is what was eaten and how good it was.  Even if it was a mediocre Chinese.  Which this was.  But the one highlight was a dish of minced chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves.  She was straight on the case to replicate and, of course, improve”.

This is also to appease all those people on healthy eating regimes. It ticks so many diet boxes. No carbs – tick, low in fat – tick, high in protein – tick, two of your five a day – tick. It’s also pretty tasty.

Chinese chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves

Serves 2 as a main course, 4-6 as a starter

  • About 550g of minced chicken
  • 1 large carrot chopped into small cubes, or, if you want to be more authentic, a handful of water chestnuts chopped into small cubes
  • A handful of chives or the green tops of spring onions

Sauce

  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated or crushed
  • Chilli to taste (I use one dried red chilli finely chopped, with the seeds, for a medium hot heat)
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

To serve

  • 1 iceberg lettuce, separated into leaves

If, like me, you struggle to find minced chicken in your supermarket/butcher’s, then you will need to mince your own. For roughly 550g of meat use the legs, thighs and mini fillets from the breast cut from a largish chicken. You will need to trim off the skin and as much fat and sinew as possible before mincing in a mini food processor, or you can chop with a knife.

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a frying pan (I use groundnut) and brown the chicken over a medium heat until cooked through (about 5 minutes). Break up the mince with a spoon as you cook.

Add the carrot/water chestnuts and fry for a minute.

Mix together all the ingredients for the sauce and add these to the pan. Heat for about a minute.

Remove from the heat and stir through the chives or spring onion tops.

Serve immediately. Put spoonfuls of the chicken mixture into each lettuce leaf and wrap around.

NOTE: You could also substitute the chicken mince for pork or turkey mince.