Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Shrimp with Avocado Salsa

One of the reasons I love summer so much is because it's a great season to have salsa. I don't mean your horrible, factory-produced, canned salsa, good for those with bland palates and a taste for food that's jarred and frozen. I love, love, love original salsa, even though it might not be the healthiest thing you could eat!

Avocado is a terrific fruit rich with fiber, potassium, and of course, fat, but it makes a terrific avocado salsa that I've used more than once. It goes great with seafood (I've used it on red snapper before, with some minced chili peppers). Today, I decided to make Shrimp with Avocado Salsa.

First step was to make the court bouillon, an acidic poaching liquid which has flavors of anise and lemon. I combined water and aromatic vegetables in a large pot and heated it. The aromatics were carrots, leeks, and onions. The recipe called for fennel, but I don't really use it that often and I didn't feel like paying $5 for a single bulb, so I substituted a small amount of Pernod. I also added a bouquet garni, which is thyme, parsley, and bay leaves tied inside three leek greens.

Once that came to a boil, I reduced it to a simmer and added the white wine, white vinegar, and halved lemon.

Once it was simmering again, I added the shrimp. I got the shrimp from Pescatore in Grand Central Market once again. I opted for medium-sized shrimp with shell-on because I figured it would help keep in the flavor while it poached. Shopping at Pescatore is nice because they have one of those "customer loyalty cards" they punch out every time you purchase a pound of shrimp or fish. Once you get ten punches, you get a pound of ANY FISH for free. I've done the math for purchasing ten pounds of the cheapest carp and getting a free pound of tuna and it's not bad. Nice, eh?

I let it cool on the counter which took about half an hour, then I peeled and deveined the shrimp. In retrospect, I don't know if the whole court bouillon business did much. I tasted only a slight acidity and anise flavor in the shrimp, but I wasn't wowed. At least my compost bin is happy from the ordeal.

While this was all happening, I made the avocado salad. This was the easiest part. I used my brand-spanking new food processor and finely chopped some red onion and cucumber, then I carefully folded in the cubes of avocado, taking care not to break up the fruit. I also drizzled in some olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper to taste.

I had some tomato diamonds in the fridge from the previous day, so it was time for plating. I took a large fork and speared a shrimp on the end. On the tines, I added a heaping spoonful of avocado salsa and placed a few tomato diamonds on top. Here's the final canape plating:

Doesn't that look great? I would definitely make this again, but maybe without the court bouillon step. I think you can simply poach the shrimp in white wine and lemon, and it would come out fine. Also, the Pernod worked extremely well; I could taste a little anise flavor, and it was absolutely a cinch to do. Buying a whole piece of fennel, chopping it up, and letting the unused remainder go bad in your fridge is just a waste.

Happy summer everyone!

Shrimp from Pescatore in Grand Central Market
Produce from Greenwich Produce in Grand Central Market

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