taste is one of your earliest memories. they say that a child's preferences can be formed before birth, still in the womb. a mother's love of spice can trickle down, through her tastebuds and central nervous system, her bones and capillaries, to the embryo. imprint.
when we first moved to the states, after my father's tour in germany, we came to northern virginia. we lived on base with a wide, shared central backyard. it was warm. there was a bright, large window that overlooked our staircase. down the street was an old-school, metal playground with a slide that burned your skin like fire on a hot day. i remember the older kids passing along the knowledge that 1 + 1 equalled 2 and i came home that day repeating it like a rosary, like i now possessed some kind of secret knowledge. i was two or three years old, fairhaired and shy.
and i remember the seafood. virginia is loaded with easy seafood restaurants and shacks. shrimp and crab. lobster. crawfish. i like the gentle sweetness, the mild brackish taste of the sea. the buttery textures.
ever since anna & i came back from maine, i've had sort of an obsession about reproducing some of the amazing seafood rolls that portland is known for and i started experimenting at work with various kinds of seafood - proteins i hadn't previously incorporated into my salad specials. these challenges excite me, to be pushed out of my comfort zone. try something new. try this. that. everything.
this shrimp salad is loosely based on ina garten's recipe - it's bright and lemony, with the soft sweetness of shrimp and crunch of celery. i made it first as one of my daily salad specials at work and it disappeared in minutes. the sweetness of the toasted brioche pairs especially well with the tangy, creamy dressing of the salad.
buns (adapted from pierre herme)
250 g bread flour (a note on flours - not all are created equal. the flour used in these recipes is king arthur flour)
50 g cake flour
39 g sugar
4.8 g dry active yeast
8.4 g salt
210 g eggs (just under 3 extra large eggs)
300 g unsalted butter, softened (european-style preferred, which is generally higher in butterfat percentage)
mix the flours, sugar, salt, yeast, and half of the eggs together in a stand mixer until dough is completely combined and nothing is left on sides. add the remaining eggs and mix until bowl is again completely clean. use a low setting, this should take about 10-15 minutes and will be developing the dough's strong gluten structures to allow it to accept all of the butter. once dough is again completely combined and clinging to the hook, cube butter and add one cube at a time until fully combined, and bowl is completely clean (i.e. all dough is combined and clinging to the hook).
allow your dough to rise in a warm, dry spot until doubled, about 2-4 hours depending on atmosphere and environment. once doubled, punch the dough down, cover, and then refrigerate for two hours. after two hours, remove, punch down once more and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours and up to twelve hours.
remove the dough and shape as desired. place in molds or greased pans, or on a parchment-lined baking tray. allow to proof again until doubled, between 2-3 hours.
beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. bake for approximately 10 minutes at 375 degrees, until golden brown.
shrimp salad (loosely adapted from ina garten)
2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 cup sour cream (greek yogurt or creme fraiche may be substituted. yogurt will cause the dressing to become a little tangier and looser, while creme fraiche will add a richer, milder note)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 red onion, diced
1/4 cup scallions, chiffonaded
2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
bring a large pot of salted water to boil. add shrimp and old bay seasoning and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes, until shrimp are pink and no longer translucent (meat should be an opaque white throughout). remove from heat and drain pot, set shrimp aside.
in a medium bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce until fully combined and smooth. dice the onion and celery and slice the scallions thinly. slice the shrimp into bite-size pieces. toss onion, celery, scallions, and shrimp into a bowl and mix. pour the prepared dressing over until mixture is thoroughly combined.
slice through the tops of the brioche buns and scoop the shrimp salad into the center. serve.