Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Cups

spicy shrimp lettuce cups recipe

It took a trip to Baltimore to renew my love of seafood. I think we all go in phases with foods we consume because we crave them versus foods we consume because we know they offer great nutritional value. Lately, seafood has crept into the latter category. Then something happened: a whirlwind trip visiting with family and savoring some of the best meals {sorry, LA and New York}, all centered around seafood. From a simple seafood steamer of crab legs, shrimp and mussels; to succulent raw oysters; to massive, moist crab cakes with almost zero filler; to Maryland - style tacos {vegetables and blackened rock fish nestled in a fluffy, grilled pita}, the common thread in Baltimore seems to be taking ultra-fresh seafood and not messing with it too much. Now seafood has leapt back to the former category of foods I crave.

Following a late arrival home and a night to sleep on it, I still maintain that Baltimore is one of the few cities, if not the only city, I would like to live in outside of Los Angeles. Having family there may have something to do with it, but the historical, waterside city itself is a triumph of charm. Worn cobblestone streets; historic brick row town homes reminiscent of Greenwich Village; small city parks serving as playgrounds to happy canine pals; friendly, kind residents; a plethora of old, cozy restaurants and pubs that serve casual, impeccable food and drink.

Back home with a fun-filled mini vacation to reflect upon and two more days of the holiday weekend to look forward to, I decided to make a seafood salad that we could enjoy outside in our courtyard. Something easy and uncomplicated as I am in proud possession of some fresh shrimp. This salad consists of 6 ingredients tossed with a dressing that is packed with flavor. It's healthy and light, reminding me of the simple seafood preparations of  Baltimore and incorporating the savory, sweet and spicy flavors I associate with Los Angeles.

Today I prepared this dish as an entree - the shrimp salad served on a bed of greens and eaten with a fork - the perfect light lunch. I have also served this dish as an appetizer -  in individual lettuce cups, to be picked up and eaten like a taco - a nice "small bites" plate to serve when entertaining.

And speaking of Maryland, remember this famous Maryland crab cake recipe?

Spicy Shrimp Lettuce Cups

3/4 lb cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
3/4 c radish, chopped
3/4 c mango, chopped
2/3 c chopped sweet onion
1/3 c cilantro leaves
1/4 c dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
8 live Bibb lettuce or live spinach leaves
- and for the dressing
1/4 c fresh lime juice
1 T peanut oil
2 t sesame oil
2 t soy sauce
1/2 t sambal oelek {or more to taste}
4 dashes of fish sauce {to taste}

In a bowl, combine dressing ingredients. Add all remaining ingredients except peanuts and lettuce. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To serve as an entree salad, fan 4 lettuce leaves on each of 2 plates and spoon shrimp salad on top of each. Garnish with peanuts.

To serve as a small plate, place 1 lettuce leaf on each plate. Spoon shrimp salad in the center of each leaf. Garnish with peanuts.

Makes 8 small bites;  serves 2 as a salad entree.  

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