Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail

I was flipping through the pages of the February issue of Bon Appetit magazine when I came across this recipe.  It was in the section where people write in asking for favorite restaurant recipes.  I thought it was such a strange concept I had to try it. And yes, it’s perfect for anyone vegetarian or who might have a shellfish allergy.

Here was the commentary from Bon Appetit….”Dear Bon Appetit, I’ve never had anything like the cauliflower “shrimp” cocktail at The Black Sheep in Richmond. My wife can’t eat shellfish, so it’s perfect for her.”

“Chef Kevin Roberts transforms humble cauliflower into a dead ringer for shrimp cocktail with a brief poach in cleverly seasoned water and a dunk in cocktail sauce.”

I had to try it. I had everything at home and wanted to see if it faintly resembles the shrimp I know and love.  Weirdly it did. The flavors are not overwhelming and it does not taste like cauliflower. It’s different. And good. And most definitely clever.  I had to share it.

I do agree that it’s a great option for anyone with an allergy or is vegetarian.  Or maybe, you just don’t have any shrimp around.

Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail
Serves 4

1/2 cup dry crab boil seasoning (such as Zatarain’s or Old Bay)
1/8 cup kosher salt
1 yellow onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 lemon, halved crosswise
One 1 lb. head of cauliflower, cored, trimmed into 2″ florets
Cocktail sauce

Combine crab boil, salt, onions, garlic and 3 quarts water in a large pot (measure this).  Squeeze juice from lemons into pot and add lemon halves.  Set pot over high heat and bring liquid to a boil.  Cook for 10 minutes to let flavors meld.  Using a slotted spoon, remove onions, garlic and lemons from broth; discard.  Return liquid to a rolling boil.

Add cauliflower; turn off heat, cover pot tightly, and let stand until cauliflower is crisp-tender, 5-10 minutes.  Drain; spread out cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool completely.

Arrange room temperature or chilled cauliflower on a platter or in a serving cup with cocktail sauce for dipping.

Two Years Ago: Caesar Orange Roughy
Four Years Ago: Pear-Ginger Crumble

Post a Comment


  1. MaryLou Rupp 1

    The humble cauliflower is delicious and a great substitute for pasta where carbs are a consideration. This looks yummy. I had a recipe to make a killer mock potato salad using cauliflower and firm tofu. Delicious.

  2. Al W 2

    I read the same thing and was intrigued. Had not got around to trying it yet, now I will make sure I do. Hope you enjoyed this beautiful weekend.

  3. Paula 3

    When I first saw this on your facebook, it didn’t float my boat. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it and so I logged back in to read it on your blog. Now I am hooked … actually craving it. Crazy thing is … I have shrimp, but no cauliflower in the fridge! Off to the store I go! :)

  4. Noble Pig 4

    I know. I was the same way but I kept thinking about it. It’s just an interesting concept.  It’s a great alternative for vegetarians, shellfish allergies and it’s also parve.  The chef who serves it, his mom used to make for all the kids when they visited the lake. Cute.

  5. Oh, yum! I must try this.

  6. Barbie with a T 6

    I have to try this even if just for the novelty of the cocktail. I do love shrimp and we have an ample supply, but I want to see just how this compares. Great for those who are craving veggies.

  7. Annika 7

    The teensiest dot of food colouring in the cauli cooking water will enhance the visual comparison to shrimp. =)


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