Kimchi Shrimp Cocktail Recipe

Cocktail sauce with a Korean accent

We go through a lot of kimchi in the Tasting Table Test Kitchen–for our own gustatory pleasure, of course, as well as in the name of cross-testing recipes, including fried rice from the West Coast or a fried-egg sandwich from the South. After using every last ruffle of kimchi, all that remains is what we call "kimchi juice." To us, it's as precious as pickle or olive juice, which we like adding to a salad dressing or to tartar sauce. One of our senior food editor's favorite uses for "kimchi juice" is to spike the tomato-based sauce for shrimp cocktail. When this high-octane liquid replaces horseradish, it brings a garlicky, spicy note to an otherwise classic dipping sauce. 

Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Kimchi Shrimp Cocktail
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Kimchi shrimp cocktail from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total time: 30 minutes
  • Shrimp
  • 4 cups water
  • 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (scrape off the skin using the edge of a teaspoon) and sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
  • 4 garlic cloves, lightly smashed
  • 3 lemongrass stalks--trimmed, tough outer layer removed and inner stalk smashed with the side of a knife
  • 2 lemons, 1 halved and the other sliced into thin wedges
  • 1¼ pounds jumbo 16/20-count peel-on shrimp
  • Sauce
  • ¼ cup kimchi juice (either the juice remaining from one 16-ounce jar or one 16-ounce jar of kimchi strained in a fine-mesh sieve, juice reserved and cabbage packed back into the jar for another time)
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce or strained tomato purée
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (such as Huy Fong)
  • Zest of ½ lemon plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (scrape off the skin using the edge of a teaspoon) and grated
  1. Make the shrimp: In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the water, ginger, garlic and lemongrass to a simmer. Squeeze in the juice from two lemon halves and add the squeezed halves to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture infuse at a bare simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make the cocktail sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together the kimchi juice, tomato sauce, ketchup, chile-garlic sauce, lemon zest and juice and salt. Place the grated ginger in a teaspoon and hold over the bowl while pressing on the ginger to extract the ginger juice, pouring the ginger juice into the bowl (discard the pulp). Stir to combine, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to chill.
  3. Drop the shrimp into the saucepan of simmering water and cook until pink and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp (to test a shrimp, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the saucepan and slice through it; it should be opaque all the way through). Turn off the heat and drain the shrimp through a colander, then use tongs to transfer the shrimp to a rimmed baking sheet to cool. Place the shrimp in the refrigerator to cool completely, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  4. Once the shrimp are cold, use a paring knife to make a shallow slit down the curved back of the shrimp and remove the vein (if there is one). Peel off the shell, leaving the tail attached. Serve the chilled shrimp with kimchi cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
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