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Prawn Cocktail


Andrew Maxwell

Prawn Cocktail

In between London Diver publications, I am always on the lookout for inspiration for my next article, and when an alert popped up on my computer advising that the next article was due, it was ironic that a letter also arrived on my desk from the 'Friends of Cardigan Bay' that merely highlighted a point that I have emphasised on many occasions in past issues.

I actually received two copies of the letter – one addressed to me, and the other to Gordon Ramsay, which was dutifully forwarded to the big man.

The letter read:
Aquamarine Silver
Dear Mr. Maxwell

Friends of Cardigan Bay is a local conservation and research organisation now in its twentieth year.

Run by dedicated volunteers, we are based in Aberystwyth in Mid Wales.

We would like to request your help with the serious problem of commercial scallop dredging that we are experiencing in Cardigan Bay. We ask that you use and recommend only diver-caught scallops for your recipes and in your classes.

At least 47 licenses have been issued in Cardigan Bay this year. As other scallop beds within the UK have been closed, this fishing fleet continues to grow in our waters. These boats are also dredging protected Special Areas of Conservation.

Scallop dredging is one of the most destructive forms of fishing. For every 1kg of scallops caught, 14kg of other bottom-dwelling species such as crabs, lobsters, ground fish and other shellfish are destroyed. The sea bed and the habitats that support our marine life are devastated after being fished this way, and what was once a rich and bountiful region of Welsh coastal water is now becoming desert.
As you are in a position of influence with the general public and have a responsibility for the information you pass on, please support our endeavour to promote forms of sustainable fishing.

By recommending better flavoured, not so stressed diver caught scallops, you, your recipes, your students and customers are contributing to a sustainable future for us all. This method of scallop harvesting is far less destructive than the current dredging techniques, and we all have a responsibility to conserve and protect fish stocks.

We hope that you can help in this small way and if you are already making these kind of recommendations, thank you.

In great appreciation of your time and hopefully your support.

Yours sincerely

Lorraine Hill

Now, for a recipe...

Well, I actually did a really lovely scallop recipe only a short while ago, so on this occasion, I am going to give you a resurrected version of an old classic, Prawn Cocktail! It took me many years as a chef to realise that there is a reason why a dish such as Prawn Cocktail is a classic – many people think of it as a bit 70s, or something that their granny would order from a dodgy restaurant in a motorway service station. However, the fact remains, that when it's done properly, a prawn cocktail is delicious. The problem to overcome is quite simple – how do you take a dish from the seventies and make it appropriate to today's demanding and high class world? Well, the answer is simple – don't tinker with the recipe. Doing so will remove the elements of the dish that have made it a classic. Just serve it in an appropriate manner. Here, it is served as a canapé, on small Asian soup spoons. And doesn't it look stunning?


  • 300g large cooked, peeled prawns
  • 1 iceberg lettuce
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • cayenne pepper
  • lemon wedges to serve

For the Marie Rose sauce

  • 4 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1½ tbsp tomato ketchup
  • dash of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


Combine all the ingredients for the Marie Rose sauce. Taste and add more lemon juice if required.

Finely shred the lettuce.

Finely dice the avocado and marinade with a little lemon juice to preserve the colour.

Assemble a small amount of lettuce on an appropriate serving dish and top with a few small cubes of avocado, followed by a few prawns.

Spoon over some of the Marie Rose sauce and garnish with a fine sprinkle of cayenne pepper.

Serve with lemon wedges if desired.
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