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Cauliflower “Shrimp” Cocktail

I’d been wanting to revisit a post I did 6 years ago (6 years!) that transformed cauliflower into shrimp. It was so good I just couldn’t get over how much it actually tasted like shrimp.  I used almost the same recipe to boil raw shrimp for many years and this was a cheaper way to enjoy the same flavors.  It was time to enjoy it again while cauliflower was in season.

It’s a fairly simple recipe. You cut up a head of cauliflower into shrimp sized florets then boil them in pickling spice. As I mentioned I often used to boil shrimp in the pickling spice so it made sense when I found the recipe.

The recipe added an onion, cut into quarters, a lemon cut into wedges, a good tablespoon of garlic powder and some kosher salt. That is simmered in a large pot for about 10 minutes.

The cauliflower is added to the pot and allowed to come to a boil, then simmered for only 5 minutes. Your goal is to have the florets just barely fork tender. You want them as firm as a shrimp would be after cooking. They also get too strong if cooked too long.

Drain the cauliflower and cool for 5 minutes. I pour them into a large bowl of water to help the seasoning float off of the cauliflower pieces.

Store in a covered container in the refrigerator overnight.

The florets are eaten with cocktail sauce. They could be an appetizer, a side dish or a snack. They’ll last several days in the fridge but we ate them so fast it wasn’t an issue. They are best eaten in a day or two.

Tip: You might want to use 2 or 3 heads of cauliflower as long as you have your seasonings and pot boiling and ready. Seriously, these cauli-shrimp are going to be your new favorite munchies. No guilt!

Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A fun way to get your vegetables in while almost fooling yourself into believing they're shrimp!


– 1 head cauliflower; cut into florets about the size of a medium shrimp
– 1 onion; quartered
– 1 lemon; cut into chunks
– 1/4 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 and serve. The seasoning gets stronger as it sits and the pieces are strongly pickled by the third day. They’re best eaten in a day or two.

Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Cocktail Sauce


– 1 cup ketchup
– 2 tablespoons chili sauce
– 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1/2 teaspoon ground horseradish (not creamed) or more to taste

Mix and store in fridge until used.

 

4 thoughts on “Cauliflower “Shrimp” Cocktail

  1. Interesting! I’m wondering what a bit of fish sauce or some dried shrimp added to the boiling liquid would do! Next time I have some cauliflower I think I’ll give it a go. I’m thinking the worst that can happen is that I’ll end up adding to a batch of Pad Thai!

    Liked by 1 person

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