Recipe: thai shrimp salad
Oh hai! Yours truly popped up on the Scientific American blog last week in a little interview. Thank you, Claire Cusick, for the interview. It was great fun!
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m utterly disgusted with Spring. It’s bad enough that we suffered the driest March on record (i.e. no awesome spring snowstorm tracks), but that April thinks it’s May, short-changing us another month of proper spring storms. Much in the way undergraduates are far too eager to bare all at the slightest sign of Spring, so too the flower blossoms down in Boulder.
crab apple (?) blossoms
We were supposed to get a big dump this weekend – an upslope event dropping up to a couple of feet on my head. I could hardly contain my excitement. Then Friday, the meteorologists were all “ix nay on the snowfall totals”. We went from expecting 2 feet to maybe getting 3 inches, if we were lucky. I guess we were lucky, because Saturday night the snow really started to come down, right around dinner time.
jeremy grillin’ and chillin’
But it wasn’t meant to be. We planned on a ski tour and wound up hiking instead. Familiar patches of dirt, mud, and forest understory looked like gaping holes in a ratty blanket of snow. I guess this is it. And even though I truly love all of the seasons, I’m a tad miffed at Summer for being such a pushy stupidhead. There, I said it.
snowing on us, but barely any snow underfoot
I can deal with summer, I just don’t want to deal with summer for half of the year. If that were the case, I’d still be living in Southern California with its seasons: hot and hotter. Before this itty bitty storm, we had a string of warm, sunny days. I know most people outside of Colorado think “snow” when they think of Colorado, but that’s only half of the awesome. Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine a year. That’s a lot. That’s why Colorado kicks your state in the ‘nads. Ha ha ha! I’m kidding! Okay, not really. But warm weather makes me crave fruit, slushies, sandwiches, sushi, and salads.
salad: shrimp, red onion, shallots, mint, cilantro, sprouts, lettuce, lemon grass, cucumber, carrots
dressing: lime, garlic, ginger, thai bird chiles, sugar, fish sauce
We recently revamped my office with some new IKEA furniture. [Hellooooo hip organization with cute Swedish names!] During my reorganization, I found an old recipe notebook and began flipping through the pages. Most of the recipes are archived here on use real butter, but this Thai shrimp salad never made it. I had to fix that…
pouring lime juice into the saucepan to make the dressing
chop the vegetables and herbs
Funny thing is, my old recipes (from like 2 decades ago) are kind of dull compared to how I cook now. So I updated the salad with cilantro, mint, and lemongrass which adds so much more flavor and dimension to the entire dish. And because I had run out of vegetable oil, I brushed butter on the shrimp before grilling it. I worried that the butter might not play well with the fish sauce, lime juice, and other flavors – but it’s a nice touch.
skewer the shrimp
As with the majority of Asian recipes I make, the bulk of the time is spent on preparing the ingredients. Once everything is ready, it takes seconds to assemble. If you want to entertain with this salad, it’s easy enough to make everything ahead, then assemble the salad and cook the shrimp right before serving. I personally like to butterfly the shrimp so that they curl up like flowers when cooked.
put all of the vegetables together in a large bowl
pour the dressing over the salad
I recommend adding half of the dressing to the vegetables first. Give the salad a good toss and then taste a piece of lettuce. If the dressing isn’t strong enough, add more until you’re satisfied with the strength of the flavor. And try to let the dressing cool completely or else a warm or hot dressing will wilt the vegetables.
top with shrimp
The recipe I referenced is a spicier version with raw Thai bird chiles tossed into the salad. I omitted the chiles from the salad, although I have a couple in the dressing to infuse some heat. Those are eventually strained out, but I say do what appeals to you. It’s all good.
a refreshing and colorful thai shrimp salad
Thai Shrimp Salad
a fusion of my own recipe and this lovely recipe from Rachel Cooks Thai
1 lb. shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and butterflied
vegetable oil or butter to brush over the shrimp
1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1-2 shallots, sliced thin
1/3 cup red onions, sliced thin
1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup lemon grass, sliced thin
2 Persian cucumbers (or 1 English), julienned
2 carrots, julienned or shredded
1 cup bean sprouts
2 limes, juice of
2 tbsps fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 Thai bird chile, sliced
4-5 slices of fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, sliced
Make the dressing first: Place the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chile, ginger, and garlic in a small saucepan. Stir over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil for a minute then remove the dressing from the heat. Strain the dressing and discard the solids. Set aside and let cool. *Note: If the lettuce is wet, the water can dilute the dressing, in which case I recommend doubling the dressing. Or if you prefer your salad dressing to be stronger, double the dressing recipe.
Skewer the shrimp onto metal or bamboo skewers and brush with vegetable oil or butter. [I ran out of oil, so I used butter and it was awesome.] Grill the shrimp over high heat for 2 minutes, then turn the skewers over and let grill for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully unskewer the shrimp. Place the lettuce, shallots, red onions, cilantro, mint, lemon grass, cucumbers, carrots, and bean sprouts in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss to mix everything together. You can serve the shrimp on a bed of salad or toss the shrimp in with the salad. Serves 4-6.