Today’s entry provides a crisp, cooling escape from the swelter. The first bite alone vaults one beyond the humidity and into a realm that’s green, lush and refreshing, far removed from July’s grasp.
With refreshment comes clarity – there’s more to this than “just” a green salad, right? A certain tingle, hint of spiciness perhaps, that keeps things cool, but in something of an unexpected way. In fact, the tastes, the ingredients, almost are reminiscent of…Mexican cuisine?
Could be. When Bon Appetit published instructions for Shrimp, Lobster, and Jicama Salad in its 2014 Everyday Meals guide, the recipe certainly wasn’t presented as a “Mexican” salad. The ingredients, though, are more than a little evocative. Cilantro, lime juice, jicama and, above all, tomatillo combine to suggest something to be enjoyed beachside somewhere like Cancun or Acapulco.
Jicama in particular is something of a revelation. For those who share that unfamiliarity, jicama is a root bulb that, when peeled, combines the appearance and some of the starchiness of a potato with the crisp sweetness of an apple. A unique mixture that’s simultaneously substantive and refreshing.
In addition to its unanticipated flavor, jicama adds a satisfying crunch, contrasting nicely with the salad’s other ingredients. The onion (or in this case, the shallots) soak for a while in lime juice before they join the salad, pickling them slightly and removing some of their bite. Tomatillo adds its own flavor, like a tomato but a little tangier. All of this adds spark, while the greens keep things cool. A perfect lunch or light dinner for summertime.
Then there’s the seafood, which complete the impression that this salad is meant to be enjoyed within the sound of crashing waves. Shrimp adds a slightly briny sweetness that brings substance while reinforcing the salad’s lightness. The lobster is, well, lobster, and brings a succulence that matches the shrimp’s savory sweetness. Foregoing the lobster certainly would cut costs, but the salad would be diminished without it.
If you can’t afford airfare to Cancun right now, this salad (and a little imagination) will fill in for a while.
Shrimp, Lobster, and Jicama Salad
- 1 pound large shrimp
- 4 lobster tails, halved lengthwise
- 4 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup thinly-sliced red onion (*1)
- 5 tablespoons, or more, fresh lime juice, divided
- 2 cups jicama, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 2 cups hardy green, with tender stems
- 2 cups thinly-sliced tomatillos
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons Asian chile oil
In a small bowl, mix the onion and two tablespoons of lime juice.
Place the shrimp and lobster in a large bowl. Drizzle two tablespoons of the olive oil over them and add a pinch of salt. Grill the seafood until it’s barely cooked through. Remove the seafood to a separate plate and, when cool, cut the lobster into one-inch pieces.
Drain the onion and place it in a large bowl. Add three tablespoons of the lime juice, two tablespoons of the olive oil, jicama, greens, tomatillo and cilantro. Add salt and more lime juice, if desired. Add the seafood and toss the salad. Drizzle with the Asian oil, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
1 – As usual, I prefer shallots. A medium shallot will produce the requisite quarter-cup of slices.