You might be looking at the best salad I’ve ever made.
Shrimp Neptune Salad!
I’m sure Neptune, being the Roman god of the sea, would have heartily approved of these luscious, fresh shrimp in their tangy dressing.
We’ve all seen those seafood salads in the deli aisle…little tiny shrimp, fake “krab” with a K, and gloppy dressing. Blech.
Put those thoughts aside and get ready for fresh and light with just a hint of zing!
I know you’re probably looking at this and thinking, Shrimp Salad in November? Right before Thanksgiving?
Well, the answer is YES! Even though it isn’t quite salad weather in most parts of the country (just like it’s rarely soup weather in Florida but we learn to get around that), I’m a big fan of dinner salads when you want to lighten things up. And pre-holiday gluttony with the turkey and all the sides is a PERFECT time to lighten things up.
Besides, this salad was way too good to keep hidden from you until the great thaw.
Here’s what you need:
Shrimp, Celery, Shallot, Lemon, Frozen Peas (not pictured), Dijon Mustard, Dill Pickle Relish, Sriracha Sauce, Ketchup, Mayonaise, Horseradish (not pictured), Salt & Pepper
If you’re making this into a salad as shown here, you will also need assorted lettuce (I have mostly romaine) and any extras you’d like such as cucumbers and avocado.
Also, I like to take the extra step to cook my own shrimp. You can get shrimp pre-cooked at the store but they’re usually quite a bit more expensive. Cooking your own shrimp at home is quick and easy.
In addition to 1 pound of good, fresh shrimp (preferably wild caught rather than farmed), you will need celery, peppercorns, and Old Bay Seasoning.
This is the same way I make shrimp for Peel & Eat Boiled Shrimp that you serve with cocktail sauce so you get a bonus recipe/method here!
Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1-2 stalks of celery and 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning. Toss in several whole black pepper corns.
Old Bay is great to have on hand for seasoning seafood. It’s a good spice blend made specifically to go with fish.
Notice that I’m using those inner, leafy ribs of the celery. The leaves have the most flavor of the entire stalk and most people throw them away.
Once the pot is boiling, let it cook for about 5 minutes so that the water and spices steep together.
Once you have a good broth going, add 1 pound of whole shrimp with the peels and tails still on.
Cook the shrimp for ONLY 2-3 minutes max. They should be vibrant pink. Do not over cook the shrimp!
Scoop them out of the pot with a big strainer or slotted spoon and directly into an ice water bath.
The ice water stops the cooking and also helps the shrimp cool faster.
In the meantime, finely chop 2 ribs of celery (about 1 cup) and 1 medium shallot.
You could substitute red onion, but I prefer the milder flavor of the shallot.
In a separate bowl, combine ½ cup mayonnaise (light is fine), 3 Tablespoons ketchup, and 1 Tablespoon dill pickle relish.
Add 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard and the juice of 1 lemon.
Season to taste with salt & pepper (for me that was about 1/2 teaspoon each) and add 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce.
You can use other hot sauce, but I love sriracha because it has flavor rather than just being hot like tabasco.
After I combined all of these ingredients I still felt something was missing.
That something was horseradish! Why didn’t I think of it sooner? Horseradish is one of the main ingredients in cocktail sauce so it’s a no brainer that it would improve our Neptune sauce.
I added 1 heaping Tablespoon of “prepared” horseradish. The “prepared” variety is the plain, grated one rather than the creamy horseradish sauce.
And if you are having trouble finding horseradish in your grocery store, check in the refrigerator section by the pickles.
Like hot sauce, you can add more or less horseradish to taste but I encourage you to use SOME horseradish. It really does take the flavor to a whole new level.
Once your shrimp have cooled, remove the tails and peels. Use a sharp knife or Handy Shrimp Peeling Tool to remove the “vein” or digestive tract running down the back of the shrimp.
Add the shrimp to the bowl of celery and shallots and add about HALF of the dressing. Stir to combine, adding more dressing if needed, to make a nice creamy consistency.
You should have plenty of dressing leftover for the lettuce.
Once again, this tasted great but something was missing.
Quickly rinse 1/2 cup of frozen peas in a small strainer under cool water just to thaw them slightly. Add them to the bowl and fold them into the salad.
Taste and adjust the seasonings of salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
You could certainly scoop this onto a crusty roll and have a killer Shrimp Salad Sandwich.
I made a bed of romaine lettuce topped with just a bit of the extra Neptune dressing. Add a big scoop of the Shrimp Salad and garnish with cucumbers and slices of fresh avocado.
You could go super fancy luncheon-style and serve Shrimp Neptune Salad in a hollowed out tomato or on top of half of an avocado.
Or you could stand and eat it straight out of the bowl with a fork!
Here’s the recipe: