Caribbean Shrimp Salad

I used to do a lot of traveling in the winter months- short escapes to warmer climates like anywhere in Florida or south of the border to Mexico.  Coming from the Midwest, I was indeed a  young snow bird of sorts. Sometimes I did it with the excuse of studying (i.e. taking intensive Spanish language courses in Merida, Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico; other times it was just a gift-to-self for studying so hard throughout a college quarter to places like Playa del Carmen along the Mayan Riviera in Mexico.

first photo shrimp salad

While I sadly haven’t been back to either places in a very long time, I still have fond and special memories of the food, the people and the experiences there. The fish, in particular was so fresh- coming straight off the Caribbean- that it was served as ceviche in restaurants just a short time after being caught.  I remember once seeing two fisherman rolling an enormous shark down the street in a makeshift cart and when I asked where it came from, they sort of chuckled and responded something to the effect of, “Pues, por alli“, as they pointed to the sea behind us.

It’s a wonder I ever swam and snorkeled in those waters… Oh, to be young and blissful!

some shrimp salad ingredients

I play it a bit safer now, getting my seafood from the local grocery or my fish monger, although I have to admit I still long to return to those beaches, feel the warm sun on my back and eat the fish coming right out of those waters. For now, I’ll have to settle on bringing those same Caribbean/Mexican-inspired flavors home this winter. We could all use a little zest in life, couldn’t we?

All you have to do is start out with super fresh organic ingredients such as white onion, scallion, colored peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, lime juice plus the zest, and of course shrimp. Buy frozen cooked shrimp with the tail-on and other than chopping all the produce, this will be a breeze.

more shrimp salad ingredients

One fresh avocado is also a great addition, but don’t worry if you don’t have it. And don’t use a mushy avocado- I think it ruins the texture of the salad. It should look neat, not slimy, which avocado does when it’s not nice and firm.

dice up the ingredients

Chop everything ahead of time. Once the shrimp is thawed, you don’t want it to sit out too long, so be ready for it. I’ll talk about how to deal with the shrimp in just a minute.

lime zest for shrimp salad

Clean the surface of a lime really well and zest the rind. It’s going to add so much freshness to this salad. Oops, I also forgot about the jalapeño, which is peeking out in the photo above. If you like a kick, be sure to add one. Just mince it up (i.e. cut in very small pieces) so that it’s not too biting.

whisk together the oil with lime juice

First, make the simple dressing- it’s just olive oil, salt and lime zest. Set that aside.

drain shrimp in colander

Now take the shrimp out of the freezer if you haven’t thawed it in the refrigerator. You can put it in a colander and run cold water over it, or even soak in very cold water for a few minutes. That usually does the trick just fine. Just make sure they’re dried really well or your salad will be wet with water, and believe me you will not be happy with that. Oil + water = a not-so-great salad.

remove shrimp tails

Take the tails off of the shrimp and discard or reserve to add to a homemade fish broth- those are a amazing, and a great way to use the whole shrimp.

throw peppers into bowl

Now add the diced vegetables to a large serving bowl where you will have enough room for everything, including all the shrimp. Plus, room to stir it around. (It’s not the same glass bowl I used to make the dressing, but it looks like it- just a smaller version).

add garlic on top of peppers

Add more of the chopped, minced and cut fresh produce like the garlic and scallions and jalapeños.

add onions

Habaneros would be nice, too- you’d really feel like you brought Mexico home. But I didn’t have any.

add shrimp on top

Now add the fresh, cooked, tail-off, and very dry shrimp to the bowl.

shrimp bowl with ingredients

This is why you should use a glass bowl. Just imagine what your guests will be saying: “wow”, “masha’allah”, “how did you do that?”, “you’re an amazing cook”…etc.  A girl can daydream any time.

cilantro

Now get to the cilantro. It smells amazing when it’s fresh and while you’re chopping it it’s even more amazing.

cilantro vertical

No wonder I day dream a lot.

vertical with cilantro

It looks pretty here, but you still have to add the dressing.

pour dressing over top

And mix ever so gently so you don’t tear the shrimp.

shrimp with cilantro on top and all the ingredients

Then add the avocado and mix again, this time even more gently so you don’t smash it up.

add the avocado

Now serve in small plates with tortilla chips on the side for scooping. You need strong ones to hold up the shrimp, so don’t skimp on those.

pinterest photo shrimp salad

Around here everyone wants a bowl of this stuff, which is fine, too.

bowl of shrimp salad

Bismillah and Buen Provecho!

Have you ever been to Mexico? What’s your favorite type of Mexican food? Take me away…

Caribbean Shrimp Salad

Recipe Type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Caribbean, Mexican, Tropical
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
If you’re having guests over for a small party or get-together, this is such a great dish to serve. It’s substantial enough to serve as an appetizer yet light enough to leave room for other things to munch on throughout the evening.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds cooked shrimp, tail on
  • 1/2 cup chopped multi-color peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons white onion, diced
  • 2 spring onions, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • juice of 2 1/2 limes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • tortilla chips
Instructions
  1. Properly defrost the shrimp and remove the tails. Place in the refrigerator until ready to add to the salad or do this just after all the ingredients are chopped.
  2. Chop all of the fresh produce and cilantro and set aside.
  3. Make the dressing by squeezing the lime juice in a small bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil and whisk vigorously. Add the lime zest, salt and black pepper.
  4. Chop the avocado and bring the shrimp out of the refrigerator if being chilled.
  5. To a large serving bowl, add all of the chopped vegetables. Place the shrimp on top, then the chopped cilantro. Add the dressing then mix the salad gently. Add the avocado and gently incorporate it into the salad.
  6. Serve on small plates or serving bowls with a side of fresh tortilla chips.

 

 

3 comments

  1. This looks awesome and I must try it In Shaa Allah. May Allah bless you for sharing ways to cook all type of meals the Halal way with us. This is awesome.

  2. Thank you, Maryam. I feel encouraged by your comment, as I often wonder how this actually impacts people’s lives, so it is very important to read/hear such feedback. JazakAllah khaire!

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