|A typical Dutch seafood |
But fish for dinner, unless it's fried, is not very common. Seafood, in particular, is still considered a bit of a luxury and will not often make it to the table "just because". One of those special occassion dishes is the Dutch shrimp cocktail. Served with a homemade whiskey cocktail sauce, it's a treat for all!
Perhaps it's because there are so many other exciting things to eat from the Dutch waters that is not just your plain ole fishy-fish-fish. Mussels, eel, herring, oysters, clams, trout, plaice, and some local varieties such as the North Sea sole and the North Sea shrimp, otherwise known as the Dutch brown shrimp, or in Dutch grijze garnaal, grey shrimp.
This last one, Crangon crangon, is very tasty and a real treat if you can get your hands on some: the shrimp are smaller and browner in color than the pink ones, but the taste is also much more delicate and flavorful. Use them for shrimp cocktails, in warm seafood dishes or covered in whiskey cocktail sauce on a white roll.
As their size is smaller, these little nuggets are a pill to peel mechanically, so it's done mostly by hand. In the old days, this was part of the daily chores of the women of Volendam and Zeeland, but is now outsourced to countries such as Poland and Morocco. An old television advertisement for the Yellow Pages, featuring two Dutch shrimp peelers, gives an idea of this overwhelming task: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSAwQxK06pQ
For festive occassion such as Christmas and New Years, often a shrimp cocktail will be part of the dinner course. Served in a glass, with some lettuce, parsley and a dollop of whiskey-cocktail sauce, it's a festive way to start a meal.
The sauce really makes or breaks the dish, especially if you use regular pink cocktail shrimp for lack of better, as I did. Make sure you make a larger batch of sauce, as it goes very well with other foods: especially with red meats or french fries!
1 cup of whipping cream
4 tablespoons of ketchup
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
1/8 scant teaspoon of sweet paprika
1/8 scant teaspoon of curry
2 teaspoons of lemon juice
1 tablespoon of whiskey
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of salt (optional)
Lightly whip the cream so that it takes volume, one or two minutes, but remains liquid. Carefully fold in the ketchup, mayonnaise, paprika, curry, lemon juice and white pepper. Add the whiskey, stir and taste. Adjust the seasonings if needed. If you like a little kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Rinse the lettuce leaves, then divide them over four glasses. Add the well-drained shrimp (nothing worse than a swimming shrimp!), add a good dollop of sauce on top of the shrimp and finish with some parsley.