Recipe reinvigoration can come in the oddest ways!
In early September my husband and I took a little retreat out in Westport on the Washington Coast. The weather was great and the Pacific Ocean had that telltale fall sparkle. The beach was quiet as all the kids were back in school and I had lots of moments to fuel my creative energy. I beachcombed. I rambled around the small fishing town. I poked around antique stores and beelined to a Church Rummage Sale.
At the sale, I found a few cookbooks and strolled by a long table filled with wine glasses, coffee mugs, drinking glasses, tall Margarita glasses and a vast selection of ice cream cups and sherbet glasses.
At that moment, I didn’t need them so off we went to lunch.
Then at the Blue Buoy, a family owned seafood restaurant, my husband casually ordered shrimp cocktail.
I didn’t think a hoot about it.
Alas, when it arrived my creative juices sprang to life. The pink baby shrimp was mounded generously into a tall chilled ice cream parlor glass. At that moment, I had found a use for those glasses at the rummage sale.
I knew those vintage glasses would be perfect for seafood cocktails made with the local crab and the shrinp harvested from the ocean!
I haven’t given much thought to shrimp cocktail over the years. My dear dad LOVED it when I was growing up but my palate had waned from it. The big farm raised shrimp simply don’t appeal to me. That said with such gorgeous wild and local baby shrimp at hand my taste buds were ready for a reboot!
With little delay I tucked into my husband’s order and seafood cocktail was BACK on my recipe radar. It was cold and perfect! The very pink and petite shrimp, which are also often called Salad Shrimp, were caught by local fishermen just off the Washington Coast. Peeled and fully cooked at the processors, they are the ultimate convenience food.
There were perfectly fresh, tender and full of mild shrimp flavor. They were nestled in the cup with coarsely chopped white cabbage and served with the horseradish laced classic cocktail sauce. I soon told Chris I’d be making that for appetizers that night. I also told him we’d better get back to the Rummage Sale to get some of those glasses because they were perfect for seafood cocktails!
Luckily when I got back to the sale, there hadn’t been a run on that army of glasses (go figure!) so I considered my options and asked the ladies at the checkout.
This is a fishing town and I figured these dedicated grannies would have an opinion on a classic like Shrimp Cocktail. And, of course, they did.
I held up the mini sherbet cup and a large, tall stemmed Margarita glass. Marked at 25 cents each I was leaning towards the thrifty Margarita option. Unanimous opinion pointed to the Margarita glasses as the ladies said they would hold the ingredients perfectly and were a good size. I grabbed the four and told them what I was doing. They cheered me on.
Next up. The Shrimp! Off to Merino’s Seafood Market we went and got two small containers. Chris also got some of their freshly shaken local Dungeness crab so that was added to our cocktail combo.
At home, the glasses got a good scrub. I hauled some white cabbage out of the fridge and chopped it very finely. (The cabbage at the restaurant was very chunky which was one aspect I thought needed refinement.) I then salted the cabbage very lightly and let it sit. The shrimp (which was cooked at the local processing plant) got rinsed with cold water and thoroughly drained in a colander. I then tossed the shrimp and crab with a dash of La Baleine French sea salt and some freshly squeezed lemon.
To arrange, I put the cabbage in the concave base of the Margarita glasses. I then topped that with a squirt of classic cocktail sauce and then dolloped the lemony shrimp and crab on top. Garnished with some lemon wedges and a bit of parsley from my home garden, they were looking great. I set them in the fridge for an hour or so to chill.
The combo was so simple yet perfect thanks to the incredible freshness of the seafood at hand. The finely chopped cabbage offered a fresh and crunchy counterpoint. It really was incomparable to anything we could have gotten at a fancy pants high end restaurant.
It reminded me that fresh, wild, local, in season and retro have NOT gone out of style!
Sourcing: Pacific Salad Shrimp can often be found fresh in season at Costco and it can also be found year round in the seafood freezer cases. Ask for it at your supermarket’s fish counter!
For more about Merino’s Seafood Market, read by blog post on their canned Dungeness crab!