How to Cook Shrimp for Shrimp Cocktail

You’ve got your raw shrimp. Now you’ve got to cook them. The best way to cook shrimp for shrimp cocktail
is to poach them gently. My preferred method is to bring a pot of salted water to the boil. You can add some aromatics first like some lemon juice and lemon wedges, pepper corns and a good handful of fresh parsley leaves. Those items are optional though. The only thing that’s required is the water and salt.
Once the water has reached a really good boil, take it completely off of the heat and let the boil subside. Then add your shrimp. Put the lid on the pot and let the shrimp cook in the heat that remains in the water. It will take 4-7 minutes. Check at that point. The shrimp are done when they’re opaque and pink.

The timing depends on how many shrimp you’re cooking and how much water you had. In a 3 quart saucepan 3/4 full of water, you can add 12 shrimp and they’ll cook in about 4 minutes. If you want to cook more shrimp, use a bigger pot and more water.

While the shrimp are cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water and a lot of ice. Once the shrimp are cooked, remove them from the hot water (leave the aromatics behind and discard them after). Put the shrimp into the bowl of ice water and let them chill completely. After that, you can serve them immediately or drain them and refrigerate for up to 12 hours before serving.

Why poach the shrimp this way? The less intense heat is gentle on the shrimp. They don’t tense and curl up as much but retain something close to their uncooked size and shape. This poaching method also results in very tender and juicy shrimp.