The Unique Way Alton Brown Upgrades Shrimp Cocktail

If you've grown tired of the dull shrimp cocktail ring that often graces dinner party tables, then it's time to do as Alton Brown does and get creative — yes, it's time to craft some "good eats." Using a few secret ingredients, you can seriously upgrade your shrimp cocktail and impress party guests once and for all.

While the origins of shrimp cocktail are hard to trace, there are some theories. For instance, many cite how a 19th-century miner from California was the first to dip oysters in a ketchup sauce, notes Taste Atlas. Despite the fact that it's hard to pinpoint exactly when the iconic dish began gracing menus, it's definitely remained a favorite for quite some time.

Similar to the tomato-based Mexican coctel de camarones, shrimp cocktail usually consists of a tomato-based sauce, however, there are some major differences. Alongside steamed or broiled shrimp that are served along the ring of a tulip glass is a sauce typically made from ketchup, horseradish, lemon, and hot sauce (via New York Times). Although a classic recipe, Brown has a few adjustments that'll revamp the iconic dish and make what's old, new again.

Add some smoky flavors and a touch of texture

In a recent adaptation of his shrimp cocktail recipe, Alton Brown shares that he adds finely pulsed smoked almonds and a splash of liquid smoke to his cocktail sauce. According to the chef, the smoked almonds recall flavors of a Romesco sauce, that's sort of spicy and smoky, but also ultra savory. Naturally, this bit of texture also works to create some interesting (and unexpected) texture that's more than welcomed.

Rather than broil shrimp, Alton also chooses to steam the shrimp. But before that, he advises brining them in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water. A great way to keep crustaceans tender and plump, Serious Eats explains that regardless of how you cook shrimp, brining is always a great trick to avoid rubberiness.

The resulting dish is a stellar shrimp cocktail bursting with unexpected flavors that just work. Bold and zesty, with an aromatic haziness from the smoky ingredients, this shrimp cocktail will have your party guests begging for the recipe. Plus, if you're stuck with leftover cocktail sauce, you can repurpose it in Brown's Smoky Romesco sauce and toss with pasta (via Food Network).