Classic Prawn Cocktail

This year the Summer Festival at Daylesford Organic Farm in Gloucestershire has a theme: The Summer of Love – 1967. It’s happening this Saturday 8 June, promising to be a fun, family day out with plenty of eating and drinking in various tents around the farm shop near Kingham, GL56 OYG. It starts at 10am and continues until 5pm. Various cooks and cookery writers will be demonstrating throughout the day and you can see me prepare a classic Prawn Cocktail and a few other favourite quick and easy summer starters at 11.15pm. Tap on to read all about it. 

This is a classic, properly made prawn cocktail, the dish that started the book that became known as The Prawn Cocktail Years written with Simon Hopkinson in the wake of Roast Chicken and Other Stories. Depending on how greedily you wish to devour this fabulous starter and also on what else there is to follow it, the quantities will suit 2 generous portions.

Prep: 20 min

150g extra large peeled king prawns plus 2 unpeeled for (optional)garnish
the heart of 1 large Little Gem lettuce or 2 Little Gem lettuce hearts
1 spring onion, white part only
6cm piece cucumber
4 tbsp home-made or very good quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
2-3 shakes of Tabasco
1 tsp Cognac
tiny squeeze of lemon juice

Pat dry the prawns with kitchen paper. Finely shred the lettuce slicing across the unfurled leaves. Divide the lettuce between 2 bowls or goblets. Trim and finely chop the spring onion. Use a potato peeler to peel the cucumber and a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds. Slice in batons and then in tiny dice. Scatter spring onion and cucumber over the lettuce. Mix the mayonnaise, ketchup, Tabasco, Cognac and lemon juice together in a mixing bowl to make the regulation pink Marie-Rose sauce. Pile the prawns loosely on top of the salad and spoon over the sauce allowing it to trickle between the prawns. Dust sparingly with paprika and hang one prawn over the side of each goblet and attach a small wedge of lemon to squeeze over the top.