Monday, November 11, 2019

Reviving the Prawn Cocktail, drizzled with Marie Rose Sauce

  When done right, a Prawn Cocktail is the perfect starter for Christmas lunch or dinner, Good Friday seafood brunch,  or just anytime. Combining a delicious seafood sauce named Marie Rose with a small salad of crunchy Iceberg or Gem lettuce, might be a bit retro from the 1970's, but it is still one of the most delicious ways to serve freshly cooked prawns, or rock lobster, a perfect Summer starter. On a hot Saturday, when cooking wasn't appealing at all, I revisited this dressed up prawn salad. Whilst it is traditionally served as a first course, it can easily be upgraded to the main event by adding a few more prawns, some fresh oysters if you love them like I do, and a little more salad as your base. I am fortunate to have access at this time of year to delicious locally caught prawns, however it doesn't matter whether the prawns are small or large. I sliced my larger prawns into three for easier eating.

This delicious Marie Rose sauce is the secret to a memorable prawn cocktail. Nigella Lawson says that the Marie Rose sauce originating in England, is the same as the Thousand Island Dressing, however the latter is the condiment spread on the Reuben sandwich, whilst Marie Rose is traditionally served with the Prawn cocktail. It was invented by British cook Fanny Cradock, but who was Marie Rose, I am still searching.

The legendary Margaret Fulton, back in 1968 in her signature Cookbook, suggested serving a seafood cocktail with 2 chilled oysters, and 1/3 cup cooked prawns, drizzled with cocktail sauce. I prefer to eat my oysters separately au naturel with just a squeeze of lemon juice rather than in the cocktail,  and 1/3 cup of prawns just doesn't seem enough anymore, however it depends on how many you are catering for I suppose, and the cost and availability of prawns. I allow 3-4 prawns per person and added four oysters on the side for good measure. Mr. HRK detests oysters, his aversion matches my passion for them, all the more for me I say. So I gave him a couple of extra prawns to compensate.The appealing thing for me about this dish besides it's deliciousness, is that no cooking is involved, the sauce can be prepared up to 3 days in advance, the salad prepared in the morning and the prawns shelled the same day as well. Just assemble, adorn and eat. It's that simple, enjoyed with a nice chilled white wine of course.

Prawn Cocktail:

Serves 4

1/4-1/2 of  a freshly washed crunchy, and chilled Iceberg or Gem lettuce, sliced thinly
1 Lebanese cucumber halved lengthways,  seeds removed, and sliced thinly across
16 prawns
12 fresh oysters if you like them

Marie Rose Seafood Sauce:

This is my recipe for Marie Rose Sauce which I often make well in advance allowing it time to chill and the flavours to infuse.It can also be served in a bowl as a delicious sauce to accompany a seafood platter.

Serves 6 easily


1 cup (300g) whole egg mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Tomato Sauce or Ketchup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (definitely not bottled)
2 teaspoons Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika


1. Combine the mayonnaise, tomato sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and paprika in a small bowl or a decorative mug, if you are serving it on the side for a seafood platter.

2. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill. This sauce recipe will keep covered in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.

If it is hot weather, I place my serving glasses in advance in the refrigerator to chill as well.

Assembling your Prawn Cocktail;

Fill your serving dishes 3/4 full with lettuce and sliced cucumber.

Top the lettuce with the chopped prawns, and drizzle over enough sauce to cover the prawns. Sprinkle very lightly with a little more ground paprika.

Add a sliver of lemon to the side of the glass, and a wedge on the plate, and add an edible flower for some extra adornment if you wish. My nasturtiums are in flower so I added one of those to each glass to match the prawns.

Thanks for dropping by and please stay safe away from bushfires if you are an Aussie.

Best wishes,



  1. This would be fantastic as a holiday appetizer! Love those oysters too.

  2. Thanks Angie, yes it is very delicious and easy holiday food.

  3. Nice recipe & good article. I followed your blog now. Thx

    1. Lovely to meet you Vicky, I'm glad you enjoyed my post. I hope you can try the recipe, it is sooo good. Cheers, Pauline

  4. Replies
    1. Well I think it's the best Tandy, and for a sauce you need the best.Great on pies too:) Thanks for dropping by, Best wishes Pauline

  5. Replies
    1. So do I Nil, not everyone does, that's for sure. Cheers, Pauline

  6. This looks really good. Haven't had a seafood starter like this in ages. And the sauce looks great -- I've had something similar in restaurants, but haven't made it myself. In the US, a shrimp (prawn!) salad like this usually has a very heavy tomato (often ketchup) base with loads of horseradish. Not subtle at all. :-) Anyway, good stuff -- thanks.

    1. Thanks KR, I wondered after I made this why I don't do it more often, so easy and so delicious and quite universal. You must try it.

  7. i love marie rose sauce even tho the cheffy types scorn it. it's so tasty. love prawn cocktails. never go out of style i reckon. perfect for christmas.

    1. I didn't realise the chefs don't like it, I wonder why.It just works on so many levels.


(c)2014-2024 Copyright on articles and photographs by Hope Pauline McNee.
Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I love hearing from you.
If you would like to receive follow up comments, simply click the "Notify me" link to the right of the "Publish" and "preview" buttons.
Comments containing personal or commercial links will not be published.