With the holidays fast approaching, this seafood salad is a terrific choice as an appetizer for a festive meal. It is relatively easy to make, can be done before your guests arrive, and always looks elegant and extravagant and tastes refreshing and light, yet is surprisingly economical. It can be followed by a nicely grilled steak, or a well-roasted chicken or even a roasted pork or even lechon de leche. So many restaurants serve a seafood salad that is woefully disappointing. Either it doesn’t have enough seafood, or the seafood is tough, or it is “burned” by a long bath in an acidic dressing. I have yet to find a decent seafood salad in a Manila restaurant. And yet, it is SO INCREDIBLY EASY to make. Follow these instructions and tips to the letter and you will hopefully enjoy the results…
The simplest seafood salad combination has only shrimp an squid (like the photo above). But it works well with some nice lump crab meat, small mussels, lobster meat, small clams, scallops, etc. The first step to a superb seafood salad is superbly cooked seafood. Most folks overcook their seafood and it turns rubbery and chewy. After purchasing VERY FRESH medium sized prawns or shrimp and small squid at the markets, prepare to cook them separately. Clean the squid and peel the skin off. Slice into small rings. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and drop some of the squid rings (and tentacles if you like) and watch them sink to the bottom of the pot. After a few seconds, perhaps just under a minute or so, they will come to the surface and you should remove them and place them on a plate. Taste one of the first squid rings to cook to check that it is properly done… tender but cooked. Cooking the squid much longer will make it tougher. Oddly, after boiling for a long time, it will become less tough…but why waste all that time and gas? A minute or two at most is all you need. For the shrimp, boil another pot of water and place some of the prawns in the boilig water, watching until they too come to the surface and quickly remove them to drain in a colander. Once cool, peel and devein the shrimp.
At this point, most folks stick the seafood into a fridge until needed. I find that refrigeration can actually toughen the shrimp up so I tend to make this so that it sits out at room temperature until fully cooled then it is about time to eat it. I do like a cool salad (it seems more refreshing) so sometimes I do refrigerate the shrimp an squid for say 30 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, make a simple dressing that has freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, a pinch of red pepper flakes, good olive oil and freshly ground black pepper and shake it vigorously to mix. Store this in the fridge until very cold. At the last minute, assemble the salad by tossing the shrimp and squid together with the lemon vinaigrette and sprinkle chopped Italian parsley. Serve immediately. In the version phoographed here, I aded some small sliced grape tomatoes. Total cost about PHP600, and this easily served 14 as an appetizer course, or roughly PHP48 per serving. Definitely one of my favorite appetizers.