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Don't Americans have shrimp cocktails with creamy sauce?

I'd had a notion that this was so, but going on a Princess cruise recently confirmed it.

The shrimp cocktails had a ketchuppy looking sauce, with no hint of cream!
I'm not knocking it, I'm just really interested in cultural differences.
Is this the standard all over the U.S.?

Shrimp cocktails (or prawn cocktails as we call them) in Australia have a creamier sauce, like Thousand Island dressing (sometimes it probably IS thousand island dressing, but not always). Sometimes the creaminess comes from mayonnaise, sometimes from cream. I like using cream in our cocktail sauce as the flavour is more subtle.

Which leaves me with another question - in the U.S., how do you use your thousand island dressing if not for shrimp cocktails?

What about other countries? What kind of sauce do you have your shrimp cocktails? What do you do with your thousand island dressing?

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  1. shrimp cocktail sauce for as long as i can remember is ketchup with horseradish....
    thats what my parents always made it out of anyway..and usually what u find here in the USA

    thousand island is either a salad dressing or with a reuben sandwich.... ime

    3 Replies
    1. re: srsone

      Googled Reuben sandwich - interesting, I might have to try it:

      The Reuben sandwich is a hot sandwich of layered meat, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese, with a dressing. These are grilled between slices of rye bread. The meat is either corned beef or pastrami, and the dressing is either Russian or Thousand Island dressing. Several variants exist.

      The picture on Wikipedia is quite scary - it's huge!

      1. re: ursy_ten

        yes theres a deli in New York city that makes one thats huge...the carnegie deli iirc

        1. re: ursy_ten

          That Wiki pic? It's of one at Katz's, presumably the one in Manhattan. As pictured, it's not that big. I've seen (and had) Reubens twice the size.

      2. You're thinking of Marie Rose sauce, which we use in NZ just like Australia and, now that I live in the UK, I can confirm they use here too. Mayonaise and/or cream with tomato sauce, I think my mother gets all fancy on it and adds a bit of lemon juice and worcestershire sauce, which then takes it closer to the territory of Thousand Island.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ultimatepotato

          when my dad would make 1000 island at home..it was ketchup,mayo and relish
          thats what he usually had on his salad at home...or eating out

          1. re: ultimatepotato

            Marie Rose sauce - thank you! I never knew it had a name.

            1. re: ultimatepotato

              Marie Rose is a classic of the 1970s dinner party and, indeed, a stawart of wannabe pretentious restaurants of the time - mayo, ketchup, lemon in proportions to suit. Still pretty good when done well, vile when not. Prawn cocktail is still one of my partner's favourite starters which goes to support the old expression that you can take a girl out of Salford but never take the Salford out of the girl.

            2. Shrimp cocktail, as srsone says, means one thing here: cold shrimp served with cocktail sauce, typically a mixture of ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice, sometimes with ground celery seed or other seasonings. The cocktail sauce is used as a dip, always, IME.

              Marie Rose sauce, Russian dressing, and Thousand Island dressing are all related to one another and are usually mayo-based. Most people here (again, IME) use Russian dressing or Thousand Island for salads or sandwich spread. Reubens are AMAZING, can't believe there are people who've never had them! They're a diner standard here. The Rachel is also delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: LauraGrace

                Yep, I don't think we have Reubens in Australia. I will have to try one (guess I'll have to make it myself though 'cause I don't think I'll be able to order one anywhere)

              2. Most places its served with a ketchup and horseradish sauce. In the south you will often find shrimp remoulade in place of a traditional shrimp cocktail and that is a creamier sauce.

                1 Reply
                1. re: twyst

                  Shrimp remoulade looks kind of similar, only spicier (though I found quite a bit of variation in recipes) - I think I like a lot about that Southern cooking...

                2. IME. Shrimp Cocktail proper in the US is cooked shrimp served with cocktail sauce, which is ketchup and horseradish. It's typical "American" fare, but you can definitely find it served with more imaginative sauces such as a Creole Mustard, or Curry, or Remoulade.
                  Those are really fun, too, but the typical fallback is cocktail sauce.
                  I think what's funny, or well maybe not funny, but it's also typical for many people to buy the cocktail sauce premade and pay for the convenience of combining 2 fairly typical ingredients found in the fridge.
                  Oh, lemons for squeezing are typically an accompaniment, and perhaps a pooper scooper a la Tommy Boy ;-)

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: monavano

                    i dont remember ever buying cocktail sauce...i always remember us/my family making it...
                    like tartar sauce...i always make that myself also...

                    1. re: srsone

                      In the seafood section, the pre-made convenience sauces are always there. I like both ingredients so I always have them on hand. Easy peasy!

                    2. re: monavano

                      I agree, when I started googling recipes for sauces sometimes I was amazed how many of them are so simple to make.

                      What's a Tommy Boy? I did google it, but didn't get anywhere with it!

                      1. re: ursy_ten

                        Tommy Boy was a Chris Farley movie

                        u can find it on imdb

                        1. re: srsone

                          Oh, thanks - I guess I was looking for a culinary reference!

                        2. re: ursy_ten

                          Tommy Boy is a movie. Funny scene (gross-funny)-- basically refers to needing a pooper scooper to remove the black vein, like the shrimp just ate Thanksgiving dinner before it died!

                      2. The sauce you mention is often associated with Crab Louis/Louie as the condiment served. It usually has some variation of mayonnaise, Lea & Perrins, onions, lemon juice, relish, gerkins, capers, olives, chili, cayenne, tomato, and egg. It goes well with both shrimp and lobster as well

                        In the States it's known as Louie dressing regionally, especially on the West Coast, but can also be known as a French/Creole Remoulade.Sauce as twyst mentions above.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: fourunder

                          Sounds fab. Going to google Crab Louie now :)

                          1. re: ursy_ten

                            If you decide to use hard boiled eggs for the dressing....rather than a simple chopping or mashing with a fork, I suggest instead you use the small/fine side of your box grater. It makes a noticeable difference in texture.

                            Also, slightly under-cooked egg yolks/eggs will make a creamier dressing as well

                              1. re: fourunder

                                Isn't that funny - it's like we've come full circle or something!
                                It does look good, I'm going to have to try it.

                            1. I like both the traditional cocktail sauce and I make a creamy mustard sauce for shrimp cocktail. When I worked at a restaurant they used to make what they called European Sauce mainly served with chilled crab or lobster which was similar to a marie rose. I want to say it maybe had a little sherry in it as well. Very good either way.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: juli5122

                                Yes, I put a little brandy in ours, I think it makes all the difference.
                                Would you mind sharing the recipe for the creamy mustard sauce? I'm intrigued.

                                1. re: ursy_ten

                                  Sure , it is slightly sweet and really good with any chilled seafood. I know Joe's Stone Crab in Miami does one that is good as well but not sweet at all.

                                  Makes just over 1 Cup

                                  ½ Cup Mayo
                                  ½ Cup Sour Cream
                                  2 TB Guldens Brown mustard (no substitutions)
                                  2 TB Sugar
                                  ½ Tsp. Salt
                                  ¼ Tsp. Pepper
                                  1/8 Tsp Garlic powder
                                  1 Tsp. Sherry

                                  Combine mayo, sour cream and mustard and mix till smooth. Add seasonings. Adjust to your taste. Best if chilled for an hour or so to let flavors meld.

                                  1. re: juli5122

                                    Thanks so much - I'm looking forward to trying it

                              2. Shrimp cocktail is also served in other ways in the U.S. too, often with creamy sauces, although the standard "classic" way it's served is, as many have pointed out, with a ketchupy looking sauce, as you described it, with horseradish as part of it.

                                The many other ways of serving it with a creamy sauce have no widely-accepted names and may also be called shrimp cocktail too.

                                I had one the other night, called [firecracker] shrimp cocktail with a creamy adobe chili sauce. Good.There are many variations, not unusual, but none as ubiquitous as the "standard shrimp cocktail" you described.

                                There well may be variations in parts of the country too. We'll hear about them I'm sure. (I hope.)

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: DPGood

                                  Thanks for your post - so if you order a shrimp cocktail and get a creamy sauce, would you be disappointed or somehow thrown off because it's not what you expected?

                                  1. re: ursy_ten

                                    Would depend on what I was served. Most often, as when I ordered Firecracker Shrimp Cocktail the other night, it was clearly described on the menu.

                                    1. re: ursy_ten

                                      I would expect a sauce with cream to be served warm. Cocktail sauce, with no cream, is served cold, to accompany cold seafood. If that makes any difference.

                                      1. re: pdxgastro

                                        A 'cream sauce', e.g. based on Bechamel, should be warm. But a 'creamy sauce' based on mayo (or other salad dressing) should be just as cold as a cocktail sauce.

                                  2. I started off with the classic US cocktail sauce of ketchup, horseradish, and a dash of Tabasco and as squeeze of fresh lemon juice. My recipe has changed, to the above I add a dash of maple syrup, celery seed, a little soy sauce, and either Huy Fong sriracha or Huy Fong chili garlic sauce.

                                    1. This is a pretty good creamyish Shrimp Cocktail recipe from the Sonora Coast of Mexico:

                                      3 Tbs Catsup
                                      1/2 cup Mayonnaise
                                      1 Tbs Lime juice
                                      1/.4 cup Celery, finely minced
                                      6 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
                                      2 Green onions, minced
                                      1/2 tsp Salt
                                      1/2 tsp Black popper
                                      1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped

                                      Whisk the catsup into the mayo, add al the other ingredients except cilantro,
                                      chill the sauce, add chilled shrimp and toss with the cilantro.

                                      1. When I worked in a restaurant we made it with chili sauce instead of ketchup, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice. If I recall- some white pepper too and possibly some garlic?(not positive about that one). At home I buy the jarred stuff because I so seldom like horseradish in anything except cocktail sauce and don't need it hanging around.

                                        1. Growing up my father would sometimes make a shrimp cocktail with a creamy sauce that he called Lamarze sauce. He said it came from a famous hotel recipe but I was never able to find ant name of the sort. What ever it was , it was very good.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: chowmel

                                            I suggest you try 'Googling' it. It's out there.

                                            1. re: arktos

                                              I had found it ages ago and forgot about it until your suggestion. Now when I see it, I remember the problem - its nothing like my father made ! He had the name but not the same ingredients. I'll try the online one - it may be good. Thanks.

                                          2. Seafood is often served with both cocktail sauce (ketchup plus) and tartar sauce (mayo plus relish).


                                            1. Thanks everyone for your input - I like to acknowledge each post but I think it ends up cluttering the thread, so please consider yourself thanked, every one of you.

                                              1. Love Thai sweet chili sauce on shrimp, too.
                                                Don't agree (upthread) that cream sauces should be warm. I always dip cold shrimp into cold sauce, whatever it may be.
                                                And now I have to get some shrimp and try to make some Bang Bang sauce (Bonefish Grill) to go with it! Actually, that's hot shrimp with cold sauce, come to think of it.

                                                1. My mother was born in Germany almost a century ago and came to NY as an adult, where she was for a time a housekeeper so I assume she made shrimp cocktail according to the tastes of her Depression-era (but still well-to-do) employers. I learned it from her - never measured anything. A couple of tbsps of mayo stirred briskly in a bowl (if you don't, the rest tends not to blend well), then a little sugar stirred in. Add about a third of a bottle of chili sauce (the red stuff sold next to the ketchup) and a half tsp of prepared bottled horseradish. I use this as a regular salad dressing, too. It is a darker pink, and zippier, than thousand island.

                                                  1. I recall years ago being in Denmark and being served shrimp cocktail with a 1000-Island-like sauce that, as I recall, was called Rhode Island sauce. I thought it very ironic because, although I am not a RI native, I am not aware that such a sauce is traditionally served with shrimp in that state.

                                                    15 Replies
                                                    1. re: masha

                                                      Very interesting and curious. I grew up in RI and have never heard this term in my life. Shrimp cocktail was always a special dish and always served with the usual cocktail sauce.

                                                      It may be one of those things like English muffins and French dressing.

                                                      FWIW, Rhode Island was possibly named by a Dutch explorer named Adriaen Block.

                                                      1. re: Bob W

                                                        It might be a bit like the Australian Shepherd, which we don't have here in Australia :)

                                                        1. re: ursy_ten

                                                          A favorite creamy sauce for shrimp coctail at our house is mayo and sour cream in equal parts, then wasabi, soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

                                                          1. re: Luna2372

                                                            Thank you, that sounds like it could be quite amazing. I will have to try it!

                                                            1. re: ursy_ten

                                                              You're welcome. It has a great asian flavour, and you can adjust the heat to your liking.

                                                              1. re: Luna2372

                                                                Uh, what do you mean when you say 'asian flavour'?

                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  Luna's recipe includes wasabi and soy sauce. You could also get some idea of Luna means by doing a search for 'Asian' on the Vancouver BC board.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    OK, I just did. By-and-large the term on that board appears to refer to Pacific-rim nations on the continent of Asia, although most (but not all) discussions still tend to refer to "Chinese" of some sort in the aggregate. ONE O.P from the first page of results from that search did include India and Sri Lanka in his idea of "Asian". So, paulj (or luna2372), which is it, in Vancouver, for you?

                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                      I guess it would be Pacific Rim...Japanese, as Sushi places were where I first was introduced to it.

                                                                      But it has the horseradish kick of trad N.A. cocktail sauce. I tend to think of Chinese, as more of a five spice kind of flavour. Not sure what region that relates to in China.

                                                                      1. re: Luna2372

                                                                        Most wasabi is horseradish; real wasabi is relatively expensive, and has a more subtile kick than the common stuff.

                                                                        Vinegar with salt and sugar (plus some sesame) is a seasoning that is common in several (east) Asian countries, most notably Japan and Vietnam.

                                                                        1. re: Luna2372

                                                                          I see. Thanks.
                                                                          Just curious as to why you don't think of "Bengali" or "Persian" or "Turkish" or "Sri Lankan" etc besides "Chinese" or "Japanese" etc when you think of "Asian".

                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                            I guess I think of Persia, Turkey, Lebanon in the Middle East of flavour profiles. Raisons, saffron, nuts, olives, lemon. I know harrisa is large flavour component in these countries, but I have never tried it.

                                                                            And India, Bengal, Pakistan...Well I think of them a Indian

                                                                            1. re: Luna2372

                                                                              Yet all these places are in ASIA.

                                                                              When referring to Pacific-rim nations in Asia, why not say "East Asian" or "SE Asian", then, instead of the unmodified term "Asian"; or better yet call out the countries by name?

                                                                              Oh well. Thanks for your replies.

                                                            2. re: ursy_ten

                                                              But you do have an Australian Terrier, don't you? :)

                                                        2. I've never even heard of a creamy sauce for shrimp cocktail. My favorite is a mexican style coctel de camaron, which is fairly thin tomato juice or sauce or Clamato with chopped tomato and chiles and cilantro and celery and onion. The chili sauce with lemon and horseradish is wonderful, too, but honestly, never heard of a creamy shrimp cocktail. Is it really thousand island dressing in Oz? It seems too heavy for a cocktail to me.