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Recipe for spicy Asian shrimp cocktail


Yesterday, for Martin Luther King's birthday, which also happens to be my birthday, I wanted nothing more than the company of my husband Ted, a snuzzle from the cats, a few hours to read in the middle of the day, and a bowl of this spicy Asian shrimp cocktail.

When I was a little girl and my family went out for dinner on special occasions like birthdays, I always felt quite grown up when I ordered shrimp cocktail in a restaurant and the waiter brought a martini glass with shrimp hanging around the rim. This dish, served with a bit less fanfare, hits all of the high points for me: spicy, salty, smoky, sweet, shrimp. No birthday cake with candles on top can do that. Not even if it's chocolate.


Spicy Asian shrimp cocktail

From the pantry, you'll need: sambal oelek, lime, reduced-sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, agave nectar, frozen shrimp.

Serves 4.


20 jumbo (16-20 per pound) shrimp, defrosted, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-1/2 tsp sambal oelek
1 tsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp agave nectar
2 cups diced English (seedless) cucumber
1 large avocado, diced
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
2 tsp roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves


In a saucepan, bring one quart of water to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, add the shrimp, and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the shrimp are pink and curled. Drain, and rinse under cool water. Drain again, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine lime juice, sambal oelek, soy sauce, sesame oil and agave nectar. Whisk together.

To the sauce in the bowl, add the shrimp and remaining ingredients. Stir gently to combine.

Chill the shrimp cocktail for 1 hour, and serve cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More shrimp delights:
Blazing hot shrimp, from The Perfect Pantry
Pomegranate-orange-ginger shrimp, from The Perfect Pantry
Spicy shrimp and cucumber salad with mint, lemon, and cumin, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sesame shrimp with honey mustard sauce, from Steamy Kitchen

Spicy Asian shrimp cocktail makes a great appetizer or main dish, with a glass of bubbly!

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


MMM! sauce sounds like a treat!
and, lovely indulgence for a birthday -- felicitations!

That would make me very happy on my birthday, too, Lydia!! It's stunning, and you never have to sell me on a shrimp dish of any kind. ;-) Happy birthday once again!


I would love to have this for a birthday treat! Hope you had a great day.

Now that's a great way to celebrate your birthday! I can't tell how much I wish I could eat a plate of that, it looks wonderful. Happy belated birthday, Lydia.

Sounds like the perfect birthday!!

Susan, the sauce is in lick-the-plate territory for me. Of course you can make it more or less spicy.

Shirley, same here. I'm grateful that frozen shrimp are so good, and also so available.

Kalyn, thanks, I did. If shrimp weren't costly, this might be an everyday treat. I have plenty of freezer space and buy shrimp when it's on sale. The rest of the ingredients are always in my pantry.

Andrea, I don't think I've ever met a shrimp dish I didn't love, but I might just love this one more than most.

Pam, it brings back all of the memories of celebrating special occasions when I was a little girl. Lovely.

This looks fantastic! Hope you had a great day :)

Happy birthday (yesterday), Lydia! Shrimp have always been a special treat for me, too. This is a must-try for me!

Alyssa, I could develop a serious addiction to this shrimp cocktail. Really, I could.

Judy, I'm absolutely certain you will love this.

Happy Birthday, again, Lydia! When I was a kid, I would always order a shrimp cocktail whenever my family went out to eat - I loved it so much and I also thought it was the height of sophistication. I am so loving this fabulous shrimp dish - it has everything: Asian, spicy, shrimp, cilantro and avocado. Love!!!

Jamie, there was something about those restaurant shrimp cocktails (was it the price, that meant we couldn't order them very often? or the martini glass?) that always made me feel special when I was a kid. And though I eat it often now, shrimp always feels like a bit of a treat.

Now that's my kind of shrimp cocktail! Hope your day was wonderful!

Katie, this is really a shrimp cocktail for those of us who adore that Asian salty-spicy flavor. Birthdays are fun, aren't they?

Happy Birthday Lydia!!!

...but did Ted make it for you?! ;-)
Happy Belated Birthday!

EB, thanks so much.

Carol, nope, I made this myself!

This dish looks wonderful Lydia. I hope you had a very happy birthday and I will try your recipe. Thanks!

Happy Birthday Lydia - I would love to try this recipe, and I agree, this would be better than chocolate cake in my book.

Happy Belated, Lydia! This dish is perfect for a little celebration -- oh, that shrimp...

Jill, thanks. Birthdays are fun, especially when there's good food involved.

Jeanette, way better than cake in my book, too.

Kelly, the first time I made this, I ate the entire batch myself. Really.

Happy belated birthday!!

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