Maine Shrimp Salad for Valentine's Day

There are not really too many finites in cooking. I think that's one of the things that keeps me interested. Hard to believe, but I like being wrong. It means I learned something. I think a therapist would call it "growth". Here is a finite I can sink my teeth into. Write it down and commit to memory. Never cook a special meal that is so laden with fat and calories that you and your mate are too stuffed to "get busy". Makes the dinner date not so special anymore. "We ate and drank so much the only reason we unbuttoned our pants was to keep them from splitting apart" sounds more like something to forget.

Back to the shrimp. Love it when the fresh Maine shrimp come into season. I picked up some at my not so local (50 minutes away) fancy food store. Cucumbers and shellfish always taste good together. The textures play well off each other and respond similarly to seasoning. Both ingredients are delicate and can be overpowered by assertive type of seasonings like raw onion or garlic.

Let's see how this went down in the Agakitchen.

Cook the shrimp

  • 3/4 lb of fresh Maine shrimp. Drop into simmering salted water for 90 seconds. Overcooking makes the shrimp mushy. No wine or lemon, the acid has a tendency to denature these small crustaceans. Drain and layout on a flat plate to cool. No need to rinse them under cold water. On a plate and in the fridge. Takes about 30 minutes to cool.

Make the dressing   mix everything together in bowl big enough to add the shrimp and a cucumber

  • 3 Tablespoons of mayo. Homemade is really much better and crazy easy. I'll give you a recipe at the end of the post.
  • 3 teaspoons of Heinz Chili Sauce. This not some Asian offshoot of Americas best loved condiment. It's ketchup for big boys, a little less sweet with a little more kick. Beats ketchup anyday.
  • 1 teaspoon dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon of prepared horseradish. Be sure to squeeze the liquid out of it first.
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, picks up the smoky notes in the sherry

Put it all together

  • peel and quarter your cucumber, remove seeds with your knife tip, dice into medium size uniform pieces. About the same size as the shrimp. Salt the cukes
  • toss cukes and shrimp in bowl with dressing, add a little chopped dill or parsley if you have some
  • place some fancy greens (I use the herb blend in the winter) tossed with a little oil and vinegar on the plate
  • mound the shrimp salad in the center
  • D-U-N spells done, rhymes with fun!

As promised, mayonnaise

  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 1T mustard
  • 1T cider vinegar
  • squeeze from 1/4 of a lemon
  • 1 cup olive oil, not EVOO
  • salt to taste
  • pepper, white if you have it, again to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon of hot hot water

Mix everything but the oil and water in a food processor. With the motor running slowly add the oil. After the oil add the hot water. Taste, season and taste again.