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shrimp cocktail with Trader Joe's cooked shrimp?

I'm making food for an afternoon cocktail party (20 people) and was thinking to do shrimp cocktail. I'm planning to make the cocktail sauce myself but a friend suggested just buying a bag of Trader Joe's pre-cooked shrimp and thawing it in cold water or in the fridge... Does anybody have any experience with doing this? How is the taste/texture?
I've never made shrimp cocktail before and I understand that the traditional method is to boil raw shrimp and then put them in an ice water bath to chill/stop cooking. But since I'm cooking so much other stuff for the party, the idea of cleaning a bunch of raw shrimp (which I have never done before!) is a bit intimidating. Also I wasn't sure how much in advance you can buy/clean and cook the shrimp, so the idea of using frozen pre-cooked ones appeals because I can just thaw them the night before (right?)

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  1. They also have raw shell on shrimp which you can 'boil' - put some pickling spice, a little salt in the water, get it rolling, add the bag of shrimp and turn off the heat, let them rest in the hot water for about seven minutes, rinse with cold water then peel and chill. Not as hard as it might seem, the shells peel easily and impart flavor.

    3 Replies
    1. re: OCEllen

      Thanks for the tip! If I were to follow this route, could I "boil"/chill the shrimp the night before or do they have to be cooked right before serving?

      1. re: hungry_united

        also, thaw no more than one day in advance

        1. re: hungry_united

          Do them the night before. And you can peel them a few hours ahead, keep them cool and chill out! Actually rather than 'formal' shrimp cocktails you could just put a big bowl of unpeeled shrimp out (abundance is key) with cocktail sauce, lemon wedges and perhaps a migonette (a mild sweetish vinegar, with some chopped shallots or green onion and perhaps a bit of herbs - parsley, tarragon or dill)l and let everyone else do the work!

      2. I've not used TJ's cooked shrimp but I use others ALOT. I keep them in my freezer all the time. And go for the bigger ones if it's for shrimp cocktail. Oh, yeah, and tail on. I put them in a colander with a bowl underneath to catch the water in the fridge the day before. By morning they'll should be thawed, maybe a little longer. I don't think you'll be sacrificing much of anything - especially cause your cocktail sauce will be so flavorful.

        1. I've used TJ's pre-cooked shrimp before for shrimp cocktail and they are always a hit, but to me, they seem kind of limp, like they're not cooked enough. I prefer to get raw, deveined, but with the shell on and boil myself. The shells peel off easily enough and I think the taste / texture is much better.

          1. i usually cook thawed shrimp then toss them with ice to cool them. I add some shrimp tails (from my previous shrimp batch) to the water along with a bay leaf, a sliced leomon, whole peppercorns, parsley.

            1. Anything like shrimp that is pre-cooked is going to be a little lower quality - just the nature of the beast. It's really up to you what you want to do as I'm sure you're having more than just one dish planned for those 20 or so people. The advantage of pre-cooked is speed and convenience, the disadvantage is a pretty lousy product. With that said, you can get some pretty bad raw/frozen shrimp too.

              If you do decide to cook these from scratch, so-to-speak, make sure that you buy FROZEN shrimp. Also wild caught is far better for you and the environment compared to farmed - read the bag. Unless you live withing spitting distance of the coast (and even then it's not a guarantee) but 99.9% of all shrimp are frozen on the boat or once they get into port. The non-frozen stuff you see in your grocery store seafood case is all thawed, pre-frozen product and they tack on an extra dollar or 2 per pound. So do yourself a favor, stick with the wild-caught frozen stuff, save some cash and get a better product.

              3 Replies
              1. re: HaagenDazs

                Thanks for the input, everyone! I'm going to buy frozen raw shrimp and take a stab at boiling it myself! Sounds like the best option, taste-wise...

                1. re: hungry_united

                  it literaly takes like two min! drop themin the boiling water, and by the time you fill a bowl with ice, it is time to drain them. good luck!

                  1. re: cassoulady

                    I drop 'em in still frozen - don't even thaw, and when the water comes back to a boil, they are done. :)