Poor Man’s “Shrimp” Cocktail (it’s Cauliflower!)

How I found myself hunkered down, sweating profusely in a tiki restroom on the island of Bora Bora, with my white leather shorts refusing to budge north of my thighs, I’ll never know. Why oh why hadn’t I worn my swimsuit today?

Oh yea, because it hadn’t fit.

Maybe that should have been a sign.

Then I heard a women’s voice. She was calling my name- “Your husband is looking for you”, she said.

Well this is lovely. What a way to end a honeymoon. “So glad you married me, darling, hope you are ok that I’m a size bigger since last week”.

“Can you tell him to go buy me a sarong?” I asked.

“He says you already have one.” She replied.

Oh Hubs, now is not the time for frugality….

“Tell him it’s an emergency and I cannot come out until I have one”.

It hadn’t been the Shrimp Cocktails fault. It was just the last thing I’d eaten before I swelled up so big that my fabulous but not-so-practical designer white leather shorts had decided they were no longer going to fit. How had it come to this? Ten days at sea, gorging on endless meals and all-you-can-eat buffets will do that to a person. The humidity certainly wasn’t helping with my overall swelling.

Hubs returned with another sarong. I then walked out of the stall I’d been inhabiting for the past 45 minutes, covered in sweat and completely traumatized. I promptly tossed my white leather shorts in the garbage bin. I imagine they are part of that great mass of floating ocean garbage today. Where do those islanders put their trash anyway?

Maybe it was an early sign that my shellfish allergy was imminent. Or maybe, leather and humidity are just never a good idea.

Now years later, every time I eat shrimp I land myself in the ER because I can’t breath. They tell me it’s a legitimate allergy and not PTSD from Bora Bora.

Sometimes I wonder.

I would love to tell you I created this dish on my own. But, I didn’t. I found it in Bon Appetite in their RSVP section and it is a true gem, especially for those of us with shellfish allergies. Don’t skimp on good cocktail sauce it really is essential to lending a real “shrimp cocktail” taste.

Poor Man’s Vegan “Shrimp” Cocktail

1 C. Old Bay Seasoning

3 lemons, halved

2 yellow onions, quartered

6 whole garlic cloves, peeled

2 1lb heads of cauliflower, cored and trimmed into 2″ florets

Cocktail Sauce

In a large pot, combine 6 quarts of water with with 1 C. Old Bay Seasoning, quartered onions, garlic and halved lemons, squeezing the juice out into the pot. Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld, stiring occasionally. With a slotted spoon, remove onions, garlic and lemons. Then, add trimmed caulifower pieces, cover and turn off heat. Allow to sit for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Drain into collander and refridgerate “shrimp” up to one day.

Serve cold with a side of cocktail sauce. I like Stonewall Kitchen’s as well as Trader Joe’s. 

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