Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mango Salad With Chili-Lime Shrimp (AKA The Triple Threat Post)

I'm told that bright colors are important when composing a dish.
I couldn't really say, because my food generally disappears
before I get a good look at it.
This is sort of a three-in-one recipe. The three parts add up to a great salad, but on their own, they're great building blocks for other dishes. The chili-lime shrimp could be served on their own as a main course, or tossed with some spaghetti squash and a few spices to make a good paleo pasta dish. The mango salad without any meat on it would make a great side salad that you could serve as the first course in a fancy dinner. It would also pair up very well with other kinds of meat - chicken or crab would be excellent choices. The salad dressing is my all purpose vinaigrette. I've put it on every salad I've made for about the past year, and it's worked with every single one.

Nutritionally, I'd not only say that you can eat this every day, I'd encourage it. As far as I know, there isn't a diet in existence that wouldn't heartily endorse this dish. It's got plenty of protein from the shrimp. It's pretty low carb, and those carbs come primarily from fruits and vegetables. It's got some healthy fats from the olive oil, but not enough overall fat to make the fat-phobics twitch. You just can't go wrong.


Peeling and de-veining shrimp is a task so tedious it could be used in psychological warfare.
I spend the extra few cents and let someone else do it.

For the Shrimp
1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 lime
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp pepper

I bought my mango peeled and seeded.
Peeling and seeding a mango isn't as tedious as de-veining shrimp, but it is more dangerous,
so the two tasks come out even in my mind.

For the Salad
1 mango, peeled and seeded
2 small tomatoes
3 baby bell peppers (or 1 normal bell pepper, red or orange recommended)
1/4 cup cilantro
6 cups salad greens of choice

I never get super fancy balsamic vinegar, because it tastes exactly the same as the cheap stuff to me.

For the Dressing
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


Pan (for the shrimp)
Large Bowl (for the salad)
Empty Condiment Bottle (recommended for the dressing)

Make the shrimp ahead of time, if possible, so that they can cool down in the refrigerator before being added to the salad.

Start by removing the zest from the lime. I recommend using a fine cheese grater or a microplane grater. Just make sure to get as little of the white part of the skin (the pith) as possible. Once you've removed the zest, juice the lime and save the juice for a later step.

Interestingly, the zest of a lime will make a dish taste more like lime than the entire pulp of the lime will.

Next, combine the salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, pepper, and lime zest. Mix them thoroughly.

It's easiest to combine the spices if you put them into a container with a top and just shake them up.

Toss the shrimp with the spices. Try to evenly coat the shrimp.

If your shrimp were particularly wet, it might be best to pat them dry with a paper towel before adding the spices.

Add a little of your favorite oil (I used coconut oil) to a frying pan over medium heat. When the pan gets hot, add the shrimp and cook them for about 1 minute. Add the lime juice to the pan, and turn the shrimp over. cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the meat of the shrimp is white.

Shrimp cook fast. Once the meat turns white, remove them from the pan immediately, or suffer shrimp jerky.

Remove the shrimp from the pan and put them into a container that can be refrigerated. Refrigerate the shrimp for about an hour, so that they are cold when they are added to the salad.

By "a container that can be refrigerated," I mean
"a container with a top that will keep your whole fridge from smelling like shrimp."

The salad is easy to prepare. It's basically a lot of chopping. You need to chop the mango and the tomatoes into half-inch pieces. Remove the seeds and stems from the peppers, and chop them into quarter-inch pieces. The cilantro should be chopped finely.

Do this.

Once everything is chopped, either add the salad greens, mango, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro to a large bowl and combine them, or place the greens onto your serving plates and top them with the other items.

The dressing is even easier than the salad. Just combine the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and mix them well. I recommend adding them all to an empty condiment bottle (I used an old hot sauce bottle) and shaking them vigorously, but you could also whisk them together in a bowl if you don't have a bottle.

Choose your bottle wisely. Some bottles say "high class," others say "white trash."

To serve the dish, put the salad on a plate and top it with a little of the dressing. Then put the shrimp on top. I recommend putting the shrimp on after the dressing because they look prettier if they don't have brown blotches on top of them, but it's your choice.

  • I used frozen shrimp that I defrosted. If you do the same, make sure you're buying frozen raw shrimp, not frozen cooked shrimp. Also, a dirty secret of the grocery store - unless you live in sight of the water, the shrimp that you think are fresh at the fish counter are probably previously frozen anyway.
  • Shrimp are sold in different sizes. I used size U15 shrimp, which are pretty big. You don't have to use shrimp that big, but I wouldn't recommend using really tiny shrimp.
  • I bought my mango pre-peeled and pre-seeded because I hate seeding and peeling mangoes. They're hard to hold onto while slicing the fruit away from the seed. If you have to do it, here's the basic method. Use a vegetable peeler to cut the skin of the mango away. Stick a fork into the tip of the mango (the smaller end) to help you hold it upright while cutting it. Rest the bottom of the mango on a cutting board, holding the fork at the top end. Slice down the sides of the mango, staying as close to the seed as you can. (The seed of a mango is shaped like an almond). It's a pain.
  • I used some baby bell peppers that I found at Trader Joe's in the salad. You can use a regular red or orange bell pepper if you want. There won't be any difference.
  • When I make salads, I just buy some mixed greens. You can use whatever salad greens you like.
  • While there is (apparently) a difference between a four-dollar bottle of balsamic vinegar and a hundred-dollar bottle of balsamic vinegar, I maintain that the only difference between a four-dollar bottle and a twenty-dollar bottle is sixteen dollars.
  • I got two generous servings from this recipe. You could probably stretch it to three.

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