Well hello everyone,
It’s great to finally surface from the dental doldrums of the past few weeks. I have missed posting, communicating and also cooking.
I thought I would share one of my all-time favorite starters as a way to get back in touch. This is my own made up avocado seafood salad which means it’s a little different every time I make it. There are a gazillion variations to take you from Thursday night supper in the kitchen to Saturday night company you want to impress in the dining room. Not bad for a main course at a ladies luncheon either.
There are also lots of different ways to plate it. This comes in handy when you peel back that avocado skin and whoops-black spots. No problem, forget fanning out perfect slices, save the good bits and do the chopped avocado version.
As always, use the very best quality ingredients you can afford/get your hands on. You will need: avocados-count half an avocado per person. I always get one or two extra just in case.
seafood of your choice- Count about one quarter of a cup per person at least. A lot depends on what you are having as a main course. Shrimp or a shrimp crab combination are both nice as is crayfish. Smoked salmon or tuna work well too. Sardines? Forget it. Lobster? If you’ve got it flaunt it!
capers-I bring mine from Greece, they are not in vinegar. In North America and the UK, look in the international section of big supermarkets. If you can only get capers in vinegar, soak them for a while before using. Use a small handful. You can chop them if you want but usually I don’t bother.
green pitted olives-A fast way to make nice slices is to stick the pointy end of your kitchen scissors in the hole and then snip, snip, snip all the way around. Count about three olives per person or two if they are big ones.
tomatoes-Fresh, sun blush, reconstituted sun dried or a combination. In France we call sun blush tomatoes ‘tomates confites’. They are dried in a slow oven with some garlic and thyme and then preserved in oil. They are plumper and more fleshy than sun dried and I love them. In the winter when tomatoes aren’t at their best, I often buy cherry tomatoes and combine them with the sun blush ones. The amount you use is very subjective, go nuts and just suit yourself.
herbs-Usually coriander and chives. If you are a coriander hater use flat leaf parsley instead. Use a tablespoon at least of each. When you taste for seasoning you may want to add more.
chili pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to taste
lemon or lime juice
salt and pepper-be careful with the salt as the capers and olives are already salty. If using sun dried tomatoes or smoked fish be extra careful.
optional- cumin, finely chopped green or red onion, finely chopped red or green pepper, olive oil if doing separate tomato layer
The first choice to make is what is going to get mixed with what. You can mix the avocado with other ingredients except the seafood or mix the seafood with other ingredients except avocado. You can also make a ring of avocado slices and then place the shrimp so they look pretty and combine all the other ingredients to make a kind of relish for the center. Actually you can do what ever you like.
For the photo, I mixed the chopped (not mashed) avocado with lime juice, a little cumin, salt and pepper. Then I cut up the shrimp coarsely and mixed in the capers, sliced olives, hot sauce, chopped herbs, a splash of lime juice and tasted before seasoning. The top layer was finely chopped seeded large cherry tomatoes with a couple of the sun blushers, salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil.
If doing a tomato layer it’s a good idea to prepare the tomatoes ahead of time and refrigerate until needed. I finished with a ‘trophy’ shrimp on each plate. There was a sale on small shrimp in the market that day so I took advantage of that plus bought a few of the big Madagascar shrimp to show off with.
So that’s the idea. However you plate your salad be sure to get your citrus juice on the avocado right away to keep it from turning brown and dull and disgusting looking. Experiment and have fun. This salad will always taste and look good. If you try it, send me a photo.