Fish is a lovely little place, but it's in the West Village and I live in Harlem so the commute isn't ideal. The other day, during a quiet afternoon at home, I started craving the perfect melding of lobster-avocado-bacon and decided it was definitely time to recreate a version of it at home.
Instead of lobster, I decided to experiment with significantly more affordable rock shrimp. Rock shrimp are small, sweet shrimp with a texture that's nearly identical to that of a spiny lobster. They're usually sold already peeled and deveined (since peeling them by hand can be tricky; the shell really is hard as a "rock"), and cook quickly for a lobster-like meal in just a couple minutes.
I chose peppery baby arugula for my salad and topped it with rows of crisp and crumbled bacon, tiny round grape tomatoes, diced avocados, and the rock shrimp--which I seasoned with lemon juice and sauteed in bacon fat. I would have added a hard-boiled egg, but I got impatient and decided to skip it. I confess that I completely forgot about the container of crumbled Gorgonzola hidden behind the milk.
I did not, however, forget about the dressing! Cobb salad is generally served with one of two dressings: a tangy vinaigrette or a much creamier mayo-based dressing. (I'm sure you'll have no trouble figuring out which kind I prefer... )
Relying on my taste memory, I whisked together a creamy coconut milk dressing with a few spoonfuls of mayo (for flavor!), Dijon mustard, lemon juice, smoked paprika, cayenne, my homemade garlic-onion powder, and just a dollop of honey to round everything out. The result was lovely and light with just a hint of smokiness from the paprika.
Like most salads, this one is easy to play around with. Use regular shrimp, bay scallops, or spring for that lobster. Add cucumbers or use a mix of greens (a handful of my favorite Upland Cress would be amazing here!). I didn't miss the egg, but I think the cheese would give it something lovely. Even the dressing is flexible (although I think I'll probably keep my version as is).
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Rock Shrimp Cobb Salad
Serves 2, generously. Can be doubled as necessary.
For the Salad:
4 strips center cut bacon
1 pound rock shrimp, peeled and deveined
Juice of 1 half lemon
1 avocado, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, washed and dried
1/4 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (optional)
5 cups baby arugula (can also use watercress, upland cress, chopped romaine, etc.)
For the dressing:
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (preferably creamy, not grainy)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the dressing: Whisk together all the dressing ingredients until fully combined. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Set aside.
Fry bacon over medium heat in a heavy-bottom skillet until crisp throughout. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly before crumbling. Set aside, reserving the bacon fat.
Raise the heat to medium high and add the rock shrimp to the hot bacon fat. Saute for 1-2 minutes, until the shrimp are fully cooked and opaque. Add in the lemon juice and toss well to coat. Remove from the heat and let cool.
Assemble the salad: Fill a large bowl with the arugula. Arrange the shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and Gorgonzola (if using) in single rows above the arugula. Serve with the dressing on the side. Just before eating, toss the salad with a 1/4 cup of the dressing, reserving the rest on the side for guests to serve themselves.