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Author Notes: I love this sort of dish. A few simple ingredients perfectly executed, building layers of flavor. The shrimp are brined, making them crisp, yet tender and juicy. The corn is cooked in a quick shrimp stock, bringing out its sweetness. Paired with the tartness of the tomato, the zip of a light, lemony mayonnaise, and a spot of mildly pungent basil, this salad is a great summer starter. I prefer using a slightly bitter green, such as arugula or even sliced Belgian endive, to balance the sour, salty, and sweet. The key word here is “summer” salad. Make this in summer with wild American shrimp when the corn, tomatoes, and basil are ripe.
Reprinted with permission from Basic to Brilliant, Y’all: 150 Refined Southern Recipes and Ways to Dress Them Up for Company by Virginia Willis, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. For more information, visit www.virginiawillis.com
Photo credit: Helene Dujardin © 2011
pounds large shrimp (21/25 count), peeled and deveined, shells reserved
tablespoons coarse salt
freshly ground white pepper
ears fresh sweet corn, kernels scraped (about 3 cups)
tablespoon corn oil, preferably unrefined, or pure olive oil
medium to large tomatoes, preferably heirloom, cored and chopped
lemons (finely grated zest and juice of 1, and 1 quartered)
cup mayonnaise, or to taste
small bunch basil leaves, chopped
cup loosely packed microgreens or arugula
- Place the shrimp in a bowl. Rub and toss with 1 tablespoon of the coarse salt. Wash under cold running water. Rub once again with the remaining 1 tablespoon salt, wash well under cold running water, then drain in a colander. Pat dry with paper towels. Season the shrimp generously with the white pepper. Set aside. Combine the shrimp shells and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to simmer and let cook until the shells are pink and the broth is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Strain, reserving the broth and discarding the shells. Wipe the saucepan clean.
- Return the strained broth to the now-clean saucepan. Add the corn and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to simmer and cook until the corn is tender, about 3 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve. Place the corn in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the reserved shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and chopped tomatoes to the corn. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and basil. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Divide among chilled plates. Garnish each with microgreens and a wedge of lemon. Serve immediately.
- Brilliant: Presentation Served with Popcorn This recipe is already about building layers of flavor -- using shrimp stock to cook the corn, using corn oil to cook the shrimp. To elevate this simple and elegant, yet Basic recipe to Brilliant, add popcorn to take it a step further. Prepare the recipe as for Basic and spoon onto room-temperature serving places. Scatter each plate with 1/4 cup freshly popped, lightly salted popcorn. This popcorn enhances the already present flavor of the corn as well as mixing up the textures and temperatures.