Comeback Sauce is, according to my research, a specialty of Jackson, Mississippi. It apparently originated in Greek restaurants and is now found on restaurant tables all over the city. It really hasn’t made its way up to Memphis, but as you meander through the Delta, you do find in on some restaurant menus. That’s where I discovered it. And of course it shows up in community cookbooks in many forms with many uses.
Comeback sauce is a great dip for chicken tenders or fried catfish, but pairs wonderfully with big, juicy Gulf shrimp as the centerpiece dip in a Southern shrimp cocktail. I frequently serve it with shrimp that I smoke in rigged-up stove top or grill smoker. I had in mind sharing a shrimp remoulade recipe as a nice, cool summer salad. Then it occurred to me that I could make it a little more regional by using a comeback sauce dressing, and I haven’t turned back. The flavor of the sauce is so punchy, that I only add a little celery and some capers to the shrimp for crunch. Use beautiful wild-caught American shrimp – I prefer big chunks of juicy shrimp, but feel free to cut smaller pieces. I suppose you could use pre-cooked shrimp, but this beer boil does add a nice zing.
You can serve this on lettuce to be eaten straight up, but it makes a great filling for a po’ boy. Kind of a redneck lobster roll.
Comeback Shrimp Salad
For the Shrimp:
3 pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails off
12 ounce bottle beer
1 lemon, quartered
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
3 celery stalks
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
For the Comeback Sauce:
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons chili sauce
1 Tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
dash hot sauce
1 garlic clove
¼ a small white onion or a small shallot
½ teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper
For the Shrimp:
Place the beer, 2 cups of water, the lemon, peppercorns, mustard seeds and bay leaves in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Bring the liquid to a boil, drop in the shrimp, then cover the pot and remove from the heat. Leave the shrimp for about 5 minutes, then remove the lid. The shrimp should be nice, pink and curled now. Leave them in the liquid, uncovered, for a further ten minutes. Remove from the cooking liquid and drain. I usually do this with tongs – you don’t want peppercorns or mustard seeds stuck to the shrimp when you make the salad.
Cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl. String the celery and cut it into a very fine dice and add to the bowl. Add the capers and toss to combine.
For the Sauce:
Place all the Comeback Sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and combined.
Pour the sauce over the shrimp and gently fold everything together until thoroughly coated with sauce. Cover and refrigerate for several hours to let the flavors combine. The salad can be made one day ahead.