Shrimp salad is such a classic. It is what I refer to as the “little black dress” of ones cooking repertoire. Shrimp salad is best when the ingredients are kept to a minimum and the sweet briny flavor of the shrimp are allowed to shine through.
Hopefully, you have access to fresh shrimp. If not, it’s ok to use the frozen ones. If you buy the shrimp boiled then all you have to do is peel them. The boiled shrimp in Louisiana are usually spicy which adds to the overall spiciness of the salad. If I buy raw shrimp from the fisherman at the Covington Farmer’s Market, I like to poach the shrimp in a lemon and herb court-bouillon. In my opinion, poaching keeps the shrimp tender and juicy.
To season the shrimp, I chop a little celery and onion to toss with the other ingredients in the salad. Sometimes I use chives if I have them in the garden. If not, I use green onions or even a little minced red onion for sharpness and texture.
For this recipe for shrimp salad, I make a basil mayonnaise. If I am feeling particularly energetic, I will whip up a homemade mayo in the food processor. It only takes about 5 minutes and produces a rich and creamy mayo with much more depth and character than store-bought. Use a high quality mayo if you choose to use a store bought variety. Add a little chopped fresh basil and lemon juice to the mayo.
At this point, you can fold the basil mayo into the shrimp salad. Spice it up with a pinch or two of Cajun seasoning and a sprinkling of parsley.
You can serve the salad on a bed of lettuce, fill an avocado half, or a quartered tomato. If you use the tomato, remove the core and then quarter the tomato without slicing all the way through. This will allow the tomato to bloom so that you can fill it with this delectable shrimp salad.