Optional, for serving: lemon wedges; fresh parsley
FOR THE SHRIMP:
Fill a large pot with 6 cups of water. Add the salt and sugar to the water. Squeeze lemon juice into the pot, and then add the lemon halves into the water as well. Bring the water a boil, stirring to dissolve that salt and sugar. Once the liquid boils, turn off the heat. Add the shrimp to the hot water and allow the shrimp to poach, uncovered, for about 3 ½ minutes (stirring occasionally).
While the shrimp cooks, prepare an ice bath by combining cold water and a lot of ice in a large bowl.
When the shrimp is just pink and opaque, transfer the shrimp to the ice bath to immediately chill and stop the cooking process. Allow the shrimp to sit in the ice bath for 10 minutes. Drain, pat dry, and peel. Pat dry again, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
FOR THE SAUCE:
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve shrimp with chilled sauce and lemon wedges. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
Assume that you will need approximately 4 ounces of shrimp per person. For instance, this recipe calls for 1 lb. of raw shrimp, which will serve about 4 people. You can adjust the ingredients to serve any size crowd. For instance, double all of the ingredients to serve 8, or triple all of the ingredients to serve 12.
Don't want to cook your own shrimp? You can skip a step and purchase cooked cocktail shrimp behind the seafood counter at many grocery stores. Alternatively, you can make Shrimp Cocktail from frozen shrimp by purchasing a bag of peeled and deveined cooked Jumbo shrimp from the freezer case. Just make sure that you thaw the frozen shrimp and drain off any liquid before serving.
If you want to cook your own shrimp from frozen, follow the same steps as outlined in the recipe, but leave the shrimp in the hot water for longer than 3 1/2 minutes (about 7-10 minutes).
While I prefer the Jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp for this shrimp cocktail recipe, you can also prepare the dish with other size shrimp. You'll just need to adjust the cooking time for the shrimp accordingly: for 26–30 count, poach 1½ minutes; for 21–25 count, poach 2 minutes; for 13–15 count, poach 4 minutes; for 8–12 count, poach 5 minutes.