Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Jell-o Project: The Dreaded Shrimp Aspic

Be afraid. Be very afraid: I have put shellfish in Jell-o.

This week I'm pulling out an old family favorite and probably the very Jell-o salad for which grandma's Jell-o molds were originally intended. To be fair, I should mention that some people in the family love it and some people in the family hate it. Shrimp Aspic is a divisive salad.

If you think you might be brave enough to try shrimp aspic for yourself, here is the recipe:

1 small box of lemon Jell-o
a scant 2 cups of tomato juice
1/8 cup vinegar
Boil tomato juice and vinegar and stir in Jell-o until dissolved.

1/8 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 TB finely chopped onion
scant 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
precooked salad shrimp (Mom says just add an amount that looks right. I said, "half a pound?" She said, "sure!")
1/2 can chopped olives
Let the whole mess gel partially, then stir to evenly distribute the chunks and pour into little molds and finish setting. Serve on lettuce leaf and wait for reactions.

Due to his shellfish allergy, Robert was exempt from the shrimp aspic experience. He was sorely disappointed. Not surprisingly, the boys wanted nothing to do with shrimp aspic. I required one bite from all three of them and I'm happy to say, none of them threw up. But no one asked for a second bite either.

I, on the other hand, loved the shrimp aspic. I ate two servings. Yum!

I have a soft spot in my heart for shrimp aspic and wanted to give it a chance to succeed, so I enlisted the help of a few friends. Ryan and I-Shuan were my first non-family taste testers. I instructed them to "think shrimp cocktail," not Jell-o. They admitted that it wasn't horrible, but wasn't their favorite. However, I-Shuan did write this inspiring ode:

Shrimp Aspic, the name strikes fear
In every one with an ear.
What could it be? This jell-o novelty?
If only we all could partake.

If you could find such luck,
Shrimp Aspic could make you a buck!
Just take a bite!
Why all this fright?
I saw it on Iron Chef last night!

Now here's the first taste!
There's no time to waste!
Was that a wheeze?
No! It slides down with ease!
All the way in...and then out.

It's out now so you lose.
Your bites weren't really chews.
Why a face that's so sad?
The chunks weren't so bad!
And that lettuce leaf looked so divine!

My next non-family taste tester was Andrea. She came to my house to taste the aspic. I told her I would not watch her eat it so she could grimace in private. However, she loved it! Yes, that's right.

Loved. It.

She said it was a delicous cold shrimp concoction and agreed that the instruction to "think shrimp cocktail" was very helpful.

So, there you have it! Two out of eight Jell-0 taste testers love shrimp aspic.

Now, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles: please leave a comment letting me know your feelings about shrimp aspic.

Of course I'll take comments from anyone, but no slamming the aspic unless you've tried the aspic.


Heather said...

If I were to think "shrimp cocktail," then MAYBE I'd try it, but I think I'm a classic Jell-o fan, in that I prefer it with fruit (and sometimes cottage cheese.) :)

Erika said...

I'm sorry Afton, but your picture gives me the willies. Each Christmas I try a little piece of aspic out of politeness to the cook, and I have to say, I'm not fond. This is surprising to me as I'll usually devour whatever is placed before me.

I-Shüan Warr said...

I think this would make a great Halloween dinner menu item.
(I didn't know you were going to PUBLISH my poem. I'll have to be more careful next time!)

Afton said...

The poem is awesome I-Shuan. I love it.
So if I made this for Halloween, what would it be called? No wait--please don't answer that.

Anna said...

I don't like shrimp aspic. But I haven't tasted it in years. I just remember thinking it was totally gross, but at the same time, I also remember anticipating jello.

I love shrimp and cocktail sauce, so maybe that is the key - mental preparedness.

In any case, I'll just have to wait until the next family function because I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make it on my own. I can hardly do orange jello with mandarin oranges.

Steve Atwood said...

Ok, I think you know how I feel about this concoction. Who ever came up with "fish jello" had to be thinking of punishment! Yes, I know mother loves it, and I know she makes it every Christmas and Thanksgiving, but I don't have to eat it! I'm glad that the majority is no longer silent!

Jen said...

I used this recipe, but finely chopped the shrimp and formed in a "brain" mold, served on a platter drizzled with cocktail sauce. Perfect for halloween, exactly the kind of recipe I had in mind when I typed in "shrimp aspic"! Thank you