Jul 282013

Mexican shrimp salad

It’s summer. It’s hot. You’ve been asked to bring a side along to a cook-out or pot-luck or other food-type party and you’re stumped. You and eight of your closest friends all brought slaw to the previous shin-dig and you desperately want to bust out of the boring BBQ-sides rut and bring something fun and unique, but if someone even thinks about suggesting that you turn on the oven, it’ll be their head that ends up in that appliance. Oh, and also? You’ll only have about 30 minutes to throw together your inspired creation.

Enter: Mexican shrimp salad! This delight is bursting at the seams with fresh summery flavor, comes together in no time, and is definitely better when made well-ahead of time. The best part? Everyone adores this stuff. It’s a huge crowd-pleaser. Consider yourself delivered from side-dish-purgatory!

Mexican Shrimp Salad
From Central Market, incorporating modifications from my mom, my aunt, and myself
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer


  • If you’re short on time or are very adverse to turning on your oven, I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use pre-cooked shrimp in this recipe. You could also boil them instead of roasting them. And you can definitely prep the shrimp a couple days ahead of time.

You will need:

  • 1 pound medium or large raw peeled shrimp (see note above)
  • 1/3 cup flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons lime juice (from about two limes)
  • Zest of one lime
  • 1/4 cup champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup scallions (about 3-4), thinly sliced
  • 3 long garlic scapes, sliced thinly (optional: these are highly seasonal and only available for two weeks each spring)
  • 2 medium tomatoes or 1 – 1/3 cups cherry tomatoes, chopped (do not seed)
  • 7 ounces of stuffed green olives (about 1 1/4 cup), rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-6 teaspoons white sugar (you may not need this)
  • 1 large avocado
  • Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)

To prepare:

  1. Roast and prep the shrimp: heat the oven to 425F. Arrange the shrimp on a baking pan and roast until done (about 3-4 minutes for 50-60 count or about 7 minutes for 31-40 count). When they are opaque and firm, shock them in ice water to stop the cooking. When they are cool, remove the tail and cut eat shrimp into 3-pieces, so they are comfortably bite-sized.
  2. Assemble: combine the shrimp, olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, champagne vinegar, scallions, garlic scapes, tomatoes, olives, oregano, and cilantro in a bowl. Stir well. Let sit in the fridge for at least four hours to let the flavors blend, making sure that as much of the salad as possible is submerged under the liquid.
  3. Taste the salad. If it is too acidic (and it usually is), add a bit of sugar to balance the flavors. Add salt and pepper if you must, but I have never thought that it needed it.
  4. Just before serving, chop up the avocado and stir it into the salad. Serve (in margarita or martini glasses, if you’re feeling fancy) along with tortilla chips, if you like, though this is perfectly addictive on its own.

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