Chefs' Recipes

Neil Perry's classic prawn cocktail

The classic that's stood the test of time.

By Neil Perry
  • 15 mins preparation
  • Serves 4
  • Print
Some dishes stand the test of time, others fail miserably. Still others, like the prawn cocktail, just need a little time on the bench before coming back refreshed and better than ever. While embracing retro food in a semi-ironic manner is somewhat of a trend these days, tastebuds accept no irony. Over the past five years or so, the prawn cocktail has slowly arisen, phoenix-like, from the ashes of 1970s dinner parties and buffet restaurants.
Neil Perry takes us through his version of the classic prawn cocktail where plump prawns, tangy sauce and crisp lettuce create an unbeatable flavour combination. And the key to mastering such a simple dish? The quality of the ingredients, of course. By all means buy cooked prawns, as this recipe calls for, but make sure they're super-fresh.
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  • 150 gm iceberg lettuce, outer leaves and core removed, finely shredded (about ¼)
  • 2 lemon wedges, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 large cooked king prawns, peeled, tails intact and intestinal tracts removed
Cocktail sauce
  • 140 ml thick good-quality mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of Tabasco sauce


  • 1
    For sauce, combine ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper.
  • 2
    Divide lettuce among 4 plates, squeeze 2 lemon wedges over and drizzle with oil. Season to taste, top with prawns and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.