It has been HOT! Both here, visiting in the USA, and back in my adopted home in the UK. With that in mind, and a natural aversion to mayonnaise, especially during a heat wave, I set about inventing a new approach to my family’s traditional shrimp salad. It turned into a sort of fake-out ceviche, and was super delicious!
My dad makes a killer shrimp salad and it has always been a family tradition to have that for dinner on the hottest nights of midsummer. He chops up perfectly cooked shrimp, Vidalia onion, and celery, and tosses it all in mayonnaise with salt and pepper. But in recent years both my mother and I have started to be a little more careful about watching our saturated fats, and Dad needs to watch his cholesterol. So when we decided to have shrimp salad tonight, I volunteered to invent a new recipe and make it alongside a smaller version of my dad’s mayonnaise salad.
Mom and I both really enjoy spicy food, but my dad has a milder tongue. Also, one thing I love cooking with when I’m in the States is Latin ingredients, because they are so much more difficult to find in the UK. Plus, my family love a good shrimp cocktail (the American version, where you dip whole cooked shrimp in tomato cocktail sauce). With these things in mind, I invented a new dish that was an immediate hit for my family this evening!
1 lb cooked medium shrimp, without shells or tails, cut into thirds (I used pre-cooked frozen, just make sure the quality is good)
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (if unavailable, omit, don’t use dry)*
1/2 small Vidalia onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
1 large avocado, diced
2 lemons, juiced
Kosher (or sea) salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. In a large bowl, toss the chopped dill and cut up shrimp. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the diced onion and tomato, followed by the juice of one lemon. If you pre-juice with a juicer, just estimate about half, it’s not important.
3. Keep the avocado whole until you are ready to add it to the salad, so it doesn’t lose its colour. Dice it into the bowl, and follow it with the rest of the lemon juice, before brownness can begin to appear.
4. Season with more salt and pepper, and toss to make sure everything is evenly coated in the lemon juice.
My approach with the dressing was to eye-ball amounts, so these lists are estimates. I also didn’t use all the dressing that I prepared; I poured in enough to coat everything, but I didn’t want make the salad too soupy, so I left at least a third in the bowl. The sauce became “alcoholic” when my mom got home from work and had had a pretty bad day. It was a spur of the moment inspiration, and while I think it was especially good in this dish, if you’re making this for kids then you can definitely leave it out.
Approx. 5 fl. oz. classic cocktail sauce (I used Gold’s)**
1 tbsp Tobasco(R) sauce (moderate to taste)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (I used the classic Lea and Perrins)
1 shot (USA) good Vodka (I used Grey Goose) (NOTE: 1 USA shot = 2 UK shots)
1. Mix together all ingredients in a small bowl. The sauce should be thin enough that when you dip your finger in, it comes out with a thin coating that is slowly drips off. The consistency should be closer to orange juice with pulp than it is to ketchup or tomato sauce.
2. Pour just enough on the salad to totally coat the shrimp and vegetables when tossed. DO NOT OVER DRESS. Mix thoroughly.
3. Cover the salad bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour. Allowing this time to marinate is fundamental to the flavour.
4. Serve chilled, with something absorbent to mop up the yummy juices. My mother thought traditional arepas (doughy corn cakes prevalent in northern South America) would work well. If you can’t find them or masa (proper Latin American cornmeal), then use either corn tortilla chips or nice toasted up baguette slices.
We had leftovers, and my mom will be taking the rest to work for lunch tomorrow! After, we had the perfect dessert to follow it all up: fresh, just picked wild raspberries from the field up the hill from our house. No cream or whipped cream needed, they were so sweet and perfect on their own!
*Try substituting fresh cilantro or coriander. My father has the gene that hates the flavour, so I didn’t try it, but I think it would work very well.
**Gold’s is a classic (ironically) kosher brand here in the States. I haven’t been able to find classic American cocktail sauce in the UK, so here is the ingredients list from the back of the Gold’s bottle: Tomato Paste, Horseradish, Vinegar, Salt, Onions, Lemon Juice, and Spices. (No idea what the spices are!) A quick cheat way I have made cocktail sauce in a pinch is to combine tomato ketchup, pickled horseradish, and lemon juice.