I have recently been on the trail of the first Shrimp Cocktail recipe (or, in Australia, Prawn Cocktail.) The specific concept is American, for sure, although it is really just a tweak of a well-established idea of serving oysters or other seafood with a slightly sharp and spicy sauce. In the case of the shrimp cocktail, that spicy sauce has a tomato base.
I invite you to help me find the earliest recipe named Shrimp Cocktail. The best I have managed so far is the following one, from the Milwaukee Sentinel of March 17, 1926:
Kraut and Shrimp Cocktail.
1 ½ cups Frank’s Kraut (uncooked) shredded.
1 cup Frank Kraut juice
1 can shrimp, shredded [shredded? An error, surely?]
Small piece of green pepper (chopped fine)
Small piece of onion, chopped very fine.
Method: Combine ingredients and pour over kraut juice. Let stand for some time. One-half hour before serving, put in glasses and cover with the following sauce:
One-half cup chili sauce. Two tablespoons catsup, juice of half a lemon. Salt to taste with a dash of paprika. Serve with salt wafers. This recipe is for six portions.
Here is another recipe for a cocktail sauce for oysters which would work just as well for shrimp (or, in Australia, for prawns) from The Meriden Daily Journal, Apr 9, 1936:
Two tablespoons tomato catsup, I tablespoon prepared horseradish, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, half teaspoon minced onion, half teaspoon salt, few drops tabasco sauce.
Mix oysters with sauce in glasses before wanted for serving and keep on ice to chill thoroughly. Use about one tablespoonful of the mixture for each serving.