Lynda Balslev: When salsa is the party
This bright and festive starter is part-salsa, part-ceviche. It’s not meant to be a simple dab to complete a chip, but rather a command to attention with a jumble of shrimp awarded star billing in a kaleidoscope of colorful ingredients. In this concoction, sweet and briny shrimp are lightly poached and steeped in a bright, citrusy sauce that continues to “cook” and infuse the shrimp with flavor. A whole bunch of fresh ingredients are added to the mix, including chile peppers, tomato and corn, which add substance and round out the flavors with juicy sweetness and heat.
The key is to gently poach the shrimp without overcooking, which can toughen them. Simply add the shrimp to boiling water and then immediately remove the pan from the heat. The residual heat will cook the shrimp until they brighten in color and are opaque through the center — in other words, just cooked. Then let the shrimp cool and chill in the spiced juices, which will continue to marinate and slightly pickle them. All of the other ingredients contribute to a chunky mouthful that’s more than a mere dip.
Serve the salsa with tortilla chips for scooping, or simply spoon it over garden greens and call it a salad. You can also wrap the salsa in lettuce leaves for fun finger food (just pass the napkins). No matter how you serve it, it’s guaranteed to steal the show.
Fiesta Shrimp Salsa
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Yield: Serves 6 as an appetizer
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, seeded, diced
1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
Corn kernels from one ear of yellow corn
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 jalapeno chile pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and remove from the heat. Cover the pot and let the shrimp poach until bright in color and just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool to the touch, then coarsely chop.
Combine all of the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro, in a large bowl. Add the shrimp and mix well to combine. Taste for seasoning.
Cover and refrigerate the salsa for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro before serving.
Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area.
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