I love, love, love shrimp so when I saw the recipe everyone was trying called “Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail, I had to look it up. It made sense to me since I’ve done shrimp boils with pickling spice and loved the flavor. Substituting cauliflower florets wasn’t a huge stretch in my mind. I thought it would be fun to try this!
I found a few different versions of the recipe, the most popular being from the Bon Appetit site. They used Zatarain’s or Old Bay to season the water. Although I like Old Bay and carry it in my pantry, I decided to try the pickling spice version first.
I brought a large saucepan full of water to a boil and added the pickling spice, a quartered onion, a quartered lemon, a tablespoon of garlic powder and kosher salt to the pot. I let it bubble on medium high heat for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld.
I’d trimmed the cauliflower into florets, reducing the amount used to just one head rather than two as it was just my P.S. (Pooh-poohs Shrimp/hubby) and myself for dinner that evening. I tried to keep them about the size of a 30-40 count shrimp.
When the water was ready I added the shrimp and let it boil for about 5 minutes. I still wanted it a tiny bit crispy, but also tender. It would seem more like the right texture of a shrimp if it had some “chew” to it.
I poured the contents of the saucepan into a strainer and let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes, then removed all of the “shrimp” pieces into a container and discarded the rest. I covered the container and refrigerated it overnight.
For dinner the next evening I made my own usual cocktail sauce (recipe below), and plated it to look like a shrimp cocktail with wedges of lemon on the side. Really, I have to say it did taste very similar to my favorite little shellfish. When cold, even the texture was very similar. I was pleased and would definitely make this more often.
It’s great that you can make this ahead of time and it will last in the fridge for a few days. It’s not only good for a meal, it’s good for snacking. Anything that inspires us to eat more vegetables is a good thing, right? And anything that allows me to eat shrimp with my fussy P.S. is a very good thing.
Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail
1 head cauliflower; cut into florets about the size of a medium shrimp
1 onion; quartered
1 lemon; cut into chunks
¼ cup pickling spice
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Bring water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion, lemon, and seasonings and let boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Add cauliflower and let cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender crisp, the texture of a shrimp.
Empty saucepan into a strainer and let cool for 5 or 10 minutes, then remove florets into a storage container and cover with a lid. Refrigerate overnight or for several days.
Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons chili sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon horseradish (or to taste)
Mix and store in fridge until used.