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The Best Shrimp Cocktail


20 to 30 very large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
4 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 cup dry white wine
8 whole peppercorns
6 coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh tarragon
2 tsp lemon juice

For the cocktail sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1 Tbs prepared horseradish
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp mild chili powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)


Combine the reserved shells, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Strain the broth, pressing on the shells to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the shells. Combine the broth and the remaining ingredients except for the shrimp in a saucepan and boil over high heat for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the shrimp. Let stand covered for 10 minutes. Drain the shrimp and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the shrimp again and refrigerate until ready to serve. To make the sauce, stir together all the ingredients in a small bowl.

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

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