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History Cookbook: Prawn Cocktail

This recipe is in categories Postwar / Modern, Healthy eating, Party food, Starters
About this recipe
Healthiness : (408 votes)
Difficulty:  1 out of 5 difficulty
Comments: Shelling the prawns is a bit messy - but they can be bought already shelled. Otherwise this is an easy recipe.
Preparation Time: 15 - 20 mins (plus time for shelling prawns if needed)
Number of servings: 4
Serving suggestions: With finely cut brown bread and butter

Prawn cocktail became very fashionable as a starter for dinner parties and also for eating out in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. It was made with Marie Rose sauce which sounds very posh, but is only mayonnaise mixed with tomato ketchup.

It still features on many menus because it is both tasty and quick to prepare.
  • 1pt prawns, cooked and cold (in shells) (approx 200gm unshelled)+ 4 unshelled, cooked, cold prawns (optional)
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
  • 4 tablespoons of good mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon single cream (milk can be substituted)
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • a little paprika (optional)
  • 8 cucumber slices (optional)
  • Tablespoons
  • Knife
  • Chopping board
  • 4 large glasses
  • Spoon
  • Bread knife
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Shell the prawns (but not the additional 4)
  2. Wash, shake and shred the lettuce leaves finely
  3. Put the lettuce equally into 4 largish glasses
  4. Mix together the mayonnaise, cream and half the ketchup and half the lemon juice
  5. Use a clean spoon and taste the mixture. If you need more ketchup or lemon then add it to taste. (Season if you wish)
  6. Mix the prawns into the mayonnaise mixture (Marie Rose sauce)
  7. Spoon the mixture equally into the 4 glasses on top of the lettuce
  8. Sprinkle with paprika if used
  9. Carefully cut into the middle of each cucumber slice
  10. Decorate the side of the glass with the cucumber and an unshelled prawn (You can use a lemon slice instead if wished)
  11. Serve with thinly sliced and buttered brown bread
Prawn Cocktail - print view  Prawn Cocktail - print view

If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
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Name: Tigger 1st January 2012
Marie Rose Sauce has no cream in it, whatsoever. A true Marie Rose Sauce is made with a good Mayonnaise, Ketchup, Lemon juice, Tabasco (just a touch, as it is not an American Cocktail Sauce), and a little Cognac. Season to taste. Despite it's French-sounding name, it is an English sauce. Our recipe, as part of the History Cookbook, was taken from a 1960's cookbook. We do not promise that it is the nicest or even a true Marie Rose Sauce but it is the recipe mass produced in family cookbooks of the era. We would be delighted to have your recipe added to the site if you would like to contribute it. The Cookit Team
Name: Warwick Back 10th November 2011
Marie Rose sauce was made with mayo' plus thick cream, (now one uses Greek yogurt). Try this, cook off a few scallops, (cook off the corals on thier own), quarter the scallops, half the corals, add all to the Marie Rose sauce, add chilli flakes if so desired, serve as above.
Name: Alysha 6th August 2011
you dont cook the prawns!!!! Uncooked prawns are grey in colour, we used cold, cooked prawns which look pink. The images make this clear but you are right the ingredients don't. We have altered the recipe to be clear. Thanks. The Cookit Team
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