Archive for December, 2011

December 21, 2011

Salad Series {Post #4} Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps – one of my favorite things to eat!

Vietnamese Lettuce Wraps with Grilled Tuna, Candied Grapefruit, Mixed herbs and a Lime-Ginger BBQ to die for…
well, not really – but it’s darn good!
  Is it still considered a salad if you can pick it up and eat it like a taco?

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

Pottery handmade by Catalina Aguirre Hoffman

*Marinade recipe adapted from the gorgeous book Alinea

Why do I love these so…

Is it the fresh, exploding Vietnamese flavors? Is it the communal experience? Platters overflowing with crispy, crunchy, fresh lettuce and herbs. The floral, jet black dipping sauce scented with lime, ginger and spices – a party in your mouth. Everyone reaching and grabbing, happily creating their own perfect wrap – what a wonderful vibe. Is it because no two wraps are the same? Each one unique, “maybe I’ll put a little more mint in the next one and more hot sauce!”. Maybe I just love watching others enjoy these as much as I do.

This is my happy food, I can eat these every day and never tire of it.

Happy Holidays everyone! See you next year!

December 5, 2011

Salad Series {post #3} Fresh Crab Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Fresh Crab Salad with Hearts of Palm, Mango, Pickled Cucumber
with a Creamy Avocado-Coconut Dressing and Crumbled Pumpernickel Croutons

I was really craving a fresh seafood salad after all the Thanksgiving leftovers last week, and what a perfect salad it turned out to be! I headed to the Fish Peddler, my go-to seafood market here in Fort Lauderdale. As you walk through the (bell jingling) door you’re greeted with a burst of air smelling of the sea and one of the best looking seafood cases I’ve had the pleasure to shop at. They have tons of local seafood, always super fresh. This place is bustling with newly inspired customers and an extremely knowledgeable staff always happy to see you, and if that isn’t enough they offer you free lemon or lime take home in your bag.

This salad is another good example of using up what you have on hand. I usually have cucumbers, tropical fruit, lettuce of some kind, mixed herbs in the garden, avocado, citrus and a loaf of fresh bread…the salad came together pretty quick. All I needed to pick up was the crab. It’s about improvising, using what you have and rounding out the flavors and textures. If you don’t have a lime – use a lemon or grapefruit. No pumpernickel? Use sourdough. No hearts of palm? Use artichoke hearts. You get the idea…be creative and don’t let yourself be confined to the recipe. Although there are lots of different flavors here, you can taste each one while not overpowering the other – that’s what you’re looking for. Play around with the proportions of ingredients here if you need to, you want the crab to shine and the other flavors to play second chair. I wanted a light dressing to coat the salad and didn’t want to use mayonnaise, so I simply pureed an avocado with some coconut water (not to be confused with the thicker, heavier coconut milk), lime juice, a pinch of coriander and sea salt – I had heavy cream left over from the holiday so I splashed a touch in as well. Yum. By slicing the pumpernickel bread super thin it makes a much lighter – wafer like crouton to crumble into the size you like (which won’t take away from the delicate nature of this salad like a larger cubed crouton would). This salad can be plated up or down by making a composed salad on individual plates for a more formal dinner salad, or dice everything up like a chopped salad and serve it on a bed of lettuce for a less formal option. Either way is beautiful and Delicious.

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