Since shrimp cocktail is a popular party appetizer and/or buffet item, these items are left out for long periods of time so with seafood, it is important to keep these dishes cold and fresh. No one wants to eat warm shrimp! Here are a few ideas on how to keep your shrimp cocktail dish cold:
1. Arrange the shrimp on a bed of ice in a dish that won’t leak as the ice melts.
2. If using a smaller dish, only set out a little bit as a time and replace as needed.
3. Only set out shrimp at the peak of the event when most people are eating.
4. Use individual serving dishes filled with ice, like decorative bowls or martini glasses and arrange 5 shrimp touching the ice in each. You often see shrimp arranged at the edge of a glass – this is only a good idea if they are prepared from cold just before serving.
5. Fill a punchbowl halfway with crushed ice or ice cubes. Place a medium serving bowl or serving platter that will easily fit in the punchbowl directly in the center of the ice.
6. Place a layer of ice on the bottom of a deep serving tray and place shredded lettuce or cabbage over the ice to conceal it if you are concerned about the presentation. Once the lettuce has been put down in a single layer, simply put the shrimp directly on top in a single layer or pattern as desired. The thin layer of lettuce will not cause the shrimp to be any warmer and can prevent shrimp from getting soggy.
The most important thing to remember it to not sacrifice food safety for presentation, ever.
Follow these serving guidelines once your seafood is cooked and ready to be enjoyed.
- Never leave seafood or other perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours – or, for more than 1 hour when temperatures are above 90 °F. Bacteria that can cause illness grow quickly at warm temperatures (temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F).
- Carry picnic seafood in a cooler with a cold pack or ice. When possible, put the cooler in the shade. Keep the lid closed as much of the time as you can.
- When it’s party time, keep hot seafood hot and cold seafood cold:
- Divide hot party dishes containing seafood into smaller serving platters. Keep platters refrigerated until time to reheat them for serving.
- Keep cold seafood on ice or serve it throughout the gathering from platters kept in the refrigerator.