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Shrimp cocktail on my buffet

I'm going to be serving shrimp cocktail at a buffet that I'm putting on. I know, I know, it's tired but people love it. Here in Dallas, it's still the #1 requested appetizer in all of the high end steakhouses. Anyway, I'm looking for some hints on plating the shrimp on ice without the shrimp getting all mushy from the ice melting.

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  1. Sorry, when someone says "shrimp cocktail" I think of two versions. And your right everyone wants it and loves it.
    1. A saucey shrimpy mix, over a shredded lettuce mix salad with lemon
    2. Little shrimps hanging on the edge of a martini glass with sauce in the center to dip kind of a "shrimp-tini"

    Now neither may not be "classic" but that what is offered where I live. Are you wanting to a serve large quanity for a group and have the shrimps "iced" for a buffet styly setting?
    I've done it that way too, takes a bit of artistic talent but its fun and makes a lovely table
    No matter what you do it will fly of the table, people love this stuff, including me. At least when its great fresh wild shrimp. (If you can find it) Oh never had a problem with mushy if I buy quality fresh shrimp and cook it with my seasonings briefly. I don't rely on frozen, I always will find at "some" shrimp in there that is mealy. Hate that.

    1. I recommend not putting the shrimp directly on ice, but rather in a bowl surrounded by ice. Waterlogged shrimp is not good. One thing we used to do when I catered was use nesting bowls. Put the shrimp in a smaller one and ice in one two sizes bigger. For really big parties, we'd use a punch bowl for the ice and a serving bowl for the shrimp. Garnish with a big sprig of fresh herbs in the center of the shrimp. Serve the dipping sauces in a semi-circle around the big bowl. Refresh the shrimp and ice as needed.

      6 Replies
      1. re: mojoeater

        I like that idea. And the shrimp will stay good and cold right?

        1. re: Scagnetti

          Yep. Just make sure the shrimp bowl is nested in the ice bowl. As the ice melts a little, it will really chill the shrimp bowl. Just make sure the ice water doesn't melt TOO much.

        2. re: mojoeater

          I like the punch bowl idea too - it makes a very pretty presentation. A wreath surrounding the base of the punch bowl is festive...can be of flowers or evergreens

          1. re: mojoeater

            I agree with this method as well. You can also do the same with a large platter (or long, wide bowl) of ice, with a smaller platter on top and the shrimp in a single layer. That way, you can assure each shrimp is staying cold. But the punchbowl idea definitely will work as well.
            Though, I must say, in our house, shrimp doesn't last long enough to get even the slightest bit warm. We love shrimp cocktail, which I guess makes us tired folks!

            1. re: QueenB

              The platter works well, not as much water run off (sometimes the shrimp will drain too) and better than all the hands in the bowl. True they won't have a chance to get warm, unless you're outside...

              1. re: chef chicklet

                We would have a set of tongs for folks to get the shrimp and place on their plates. And small spoons for the dips. No fingers in the bowl.

          2. Scag,

            The trick is to cool your shrimp first, if the shrimp are cold they can sit on top of ice for an extended period of time.

            1. I've never bothered with ice, in a bowl within a bowl or otherwise, because shrimp are usually gone in a minute. By the way, doing a party last week with shrimp from different sources, I found that those from Mexico were the absolute best. I cooked off some from Thailand, and all of this scum stuff rose to the top of the water. The shrimp from Mexico, however, which happened to be cheaper, were plump and wonderful, with no iodine taste, and the water was clear. These were all 16-20.

              4 Replies
              1. re: pitterpatter

                Presumably in Texas they'll have the Gulf shrimp- maybe Royal Reds?

                1. re: Gypsyfish

                  As we like to say in Texas, we've got more shrimp to choose from than a show dog can jump over. And yes, Gulf shrimp from the bountiful waters off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

                  1. re: Scagnetti

                    I can't find Gulf shrimp anywhere! The stores here offer only farm raised and lack that sweet fresh taste, but I'll buy it anyway. My favorite thing to eat in the world is what in now known as "wild" shrimp.
                    I sure envy you!

                    1. re: Scagnetti

                      When sport fishing many miles off Port Arthur, we used to bring an extra case of beer to barter for shrimp. The shrimpers trawl by night and sleep by day. The crew can be fired for selling part of the catch, but we would get a healthy portion of fresh shrimp of every size in exchange for beer. Chef Chicklet, the fresh-fresh is unbelievable in sweetness and flavor. But very difficult to come by.

                2. The double bowl idea works fabulously.

                  The other option is to use those faux clear ball "ice cubes" that you buy and freeze, then put in drinks as ice cubes that don't melt and make the drinks all watery. I know they generally make goofy colored ones, but they also make clear ones and they're great for just this purpose as decoration in the bowl itself.
                  http://www.icerocks.com/icerocks.php?...
                  http://www.wineintro.com/products/ice...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Emme

                    We purchased a clear plastic dish for shrimp that has a receptacle underneath for ice. It is made especially for crudite or shrimp that you put on a buffet. I don't mind that it is plastic as it is the clear stuff and gets the job done.

                  2. I intend to make an ice bowl for my 15 lbs of shrimp I'm doing next week. (a la Martha Stewart) I will line the bowl w/ plastic wrap and then set it on a tray on absorbant towels.

                    Although the ice in the punch bowl idea is tempting me, because making the ice bowl is a mild pain in the ass.

                    1. Use a pierced tray with ice on it. Cover the ice with shredded lettuce and place the shrimp on the lettuce. As the ice melts, it will drain off into whatever you place under the pierced tray. You can use the types of pans sold for cooking pizza (some are metal mesh and some have a regular pattern of holes) or make your own with heavy clear plastic using a heated ice pick. The tray and the under-pan won't show if you garnish well.
                      I have a majolica fruit bowl from U. Grazia in Deruta, Italy that I use for shrimp. It has small holes and is designed to chill fruit for serving at table, allowing the water to drain off into an undertray, and works great for seafood too.
                      I don't take the good Deruta piece outside so I use the pierced pizza pan or plastic tray method.