Ensalada de Camarón (Shrimp Salad)
- SERVINGS: 4 TO 6 FIRST COURSE SERVINGS
Veracruzans prize seafood salads made either with medleys of different kinds or with one particular variety of seafood. The version Zarela Martinez gives here, a good appetizer or first course, is based on her own happy experiences with many Veracruzan ensaladas de mariscos.
In dishes like this, garnished with raw onion, Martinez really values the freshness of Mexican onions, which are used much sooner after pulling than our common storage onions. Often, they are like the middling-sized pearly white onions with green tops still attached that you will find in some ethnic groceries as "bulb onions" or "spring onions" (don't confuse them with scallions). Red onions make a good substitute, especially the kind that are new looking and shiny, without papery skins.
- 6 cups fish stock or water
- 1 small white onion, unpeeled
- 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 3 bay leaves
- 10-12 black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1 pound shrimp (sold as 16 - 20 count) in the shell
- Juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 fresh white onion (see above) or 1 medium-small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 3 jalapeño chilies
- 1 ripe Mexican-type avocado (Hass or Fuerte), finely diced
- 10 cilantro sprigs, stripped of leaves
- Place the fish stock or water, onion, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of salt in a medium-sized saucepan or small stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, cook uncovered for 10 minutes to infuse with the flavors. Add the shrimp and cook, uncovered, for about 2 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink. Quickly cool by emptying into a colander set under cold running water. Drain thoroughly. Peel the shrimp and cut lengthwise into halves.
- In a small bowl, combine the lime juice and olive oil with a generous grinding of black pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon more salt. Place the shrimp in a large bowl with the bulb onion, chilies, avocado and cilantro. Pour the lime juice dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to distribute evenly. Taste for seasoning and add a little more salt and pepper if desired. Serve at once.