Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Crab & Shrimp Cocktails

This is an easy prepare-ahead first course that will please your guests, look beautiful on your table and be cool and refreshing, all at the same time.  I served this during a recent dinner party on the patio and they were a big hit.  I used parfait glasses, but you can serve these as easily on a plate or in cocktail glass, which is why they are called "cocktails."

Cocktail appetizers (such as fruit cocktail and shrimp cocktail) became popular during Prohibition.   In the USA during the1920s these appetizers were actually served in cocktail glasses originally meant to hold alcoholic beverages.  It was a creative way to use the stemware which by law, could no longer be used to serve alcoholic beverages.

This recipe, a close cousin of the original shrimp cocktail, uses crab as the main ingredient and adds some peppers and celery to lighten the dish.  The red cocktail sauce is replaced with a lime mayonnaise.  

If you have friends and family that enjoy shellfish, give this summer treat a try.  These will not disappoint on a hot summer evening.

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16 ounces cooked white crab meat
8 cooked and peeled large shrimp, tails on
1 tbsp crushed coriander
1 fresh red chili pepper, chopped
1 fresh banana pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 limes, juiced
1 avocado , peeled and sliced into 8 wedges
salt and pepper to taste
8 Lettuce leaves (Boston preferred)

1 cup mayonnaise
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 tbsp crushed coriander

Mix the coriander, chili and lime juice, and toss with the crab.  Refrigerate covered to let flavors blend.  Mix the dressing ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready for use.

Remove dressing and crab from refrigerator.  Salt and pepper crab to taste. Stir dressing to thin.  Divide the lettuce leaves between 8 serving glasses.     Layer the crab into each dish and add a single shrimp and avocado wedge to each glass. Drizzle dressing over the cocktails.

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