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Oct 17, 2017

Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail

This Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail is so fresh and spicy.

This Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail is so fresh and spicy.

This Vietnamese-style shrimp cocktail is easy to put together, and it's wonderful as an appetizer or first course for a dinner party. I love how it's loaded with fresh vegetables.

As much as I tell myself that I will serve a tried-and-true recipe when we have friends over for dinner to make life easier, I tend to use these get togethers to try something I've never made before. I love browsing through cookbooks looking for ideas, and can't resist trying something new. Fortunately my friends don't mind when I experiment.

I try to look for recipes that can be assembled in advance and then cooked while I am enjoying hanging out with my guests. I can be a pretty clumsy cook, so I try to minimize the hands on time while my guests are here. Plus, it's always nice to have most of the dishwashing done prior to everyone showing up.

This Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail is so fresh and spicy.

For our last dinner for four, I made a parchment wrapped cod dish that you can assemble in advance and refrigerate. There was lots of spinach in the the parchment packets, so I decided to skip the tossed salad and serve these shrimp cocktails. They were a big hit.

This shrimp cocktail mixture can be assembled in advance and refrigerated. In fact, it's required!

One of the ingredients called for in this recipe is fish sauce. It's one of those ingredients, like fermented black beans, that has an unappealing odor on its own, but will add so much to the finished dish. It's made from anchovies, which have a natural umami. I prefer the Red Boat brand fish sauce. It's worth the effort to hunt it down.

If you can't find it, Cook's Illustrated suggests simmering 3 cups of water, 1/4 ounce of dried shiitake mushrooms, 3 tablespoons of salt, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce until reduced by half to make a vegetarian version.

I also love the Clamato in this recipe. I used the picante version, but you can use "original" Clamato or tomato juice.

P.S. How do you manage when you are having dinner guests? Any secrets? It's alway such a challenge for me.

This month, the Fantastical Food Fight theme is Pickled Peppers. Did you know October was pickled pepper month? Me neither!

I happened to have a jar of pickled jalapeños in the refrigerator. I thought the flavor would work with this recipe because pickled vegetables are often used as condiments on banh mi sandwiches. I was so happy with this shrimp cocktail.

After this recipe, be sure to check out the rest of the recipes using pickled peppers.

Yield: 4 servings

Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail


  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely minced pickled jalapeños
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh serrano or Thai chile
  • Juice of 1/2 of a lime
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 ounces cooked small salad shrimp
  • 8 ounces picante Clamato (or tomato juice)
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro


  1. Whisk together the fish sauce, garlic, chiles, lime juice, sugar, and sriracha sauce.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.

Adapted from Healthy Asian Favorites
This Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Cocktail is so fresh and spicy.

Would you like to comment?

  1. My guests are used to being my guinea pigs and they will often confirm that I have taken photos before they dig in LOL.....I think this will make a great appetizer for my next get together. Thanks Karen.

    1. How funny! I bet your guests don't mind at all, as long as they get to eat your masterpieces.

  2. And.... you put your gorgeous glasses to great use!!!!

    We are having five golfing buddies from Phil staying with us from Fri to Sun.... ask me if I am freaking out?... 😜

    1. You noticed!! Aren't they the prettiest!

      This would be perfect for the guys, and it's so fuss free. My dinner guests finished every last bite.

  3. Make ahead appetizers are the best. Just fix it and forget it ;) The jalapeno definitely looks like the perfect addition to the cocktail. I bet these were delicious!!


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