Like stuffed mushrooms, seafood salad isn't a terribly common dish in the US these days. Sure, you'll see ceviche on every other "Latin-inspired" menu, but other than this raw preparation, chilled seafood lovers are often left salad-less. Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's version in their cookbook, Ottolenghi, is an easy one. They mix raw fennel and red onion with barely-seared squid and tail-on prawns for an even balance of crunch and chew. To brighten it up, they add a generous squeeze of lime, a flurry of its zest, and a spoonful of citrusy sumac. Dill, cilantro, and parsley give the salad an herbaceous finish.
Why I picked this recipe: I couldn't resist the call of the delightfully retro seafood salad.
What worked: Seafood and fennel is always a winning combination, and the addition of bright lime and sumac made it even better.
What didn't: They don't explicitly say to do this, but make sure to dry the squid thoroughly before searing it; otherwise, it will steam in its copious juices. And while they say you can save the salad for up to a day, I thought it was much better right after mixing.
Suggested tweaks: You could use different seafood in here if you like. Scallops would be particularly nice, as well as a little crab meat. If you can't find tiger prawns (or prefer to use a more sustainable species), just use the biggest tail-on shrimp you can find. I used U10 gulf shrimp. Look for sumac in Middle Eastern grocery stores. If you can't find it, add more lime juice and zest (or find out how to forage some!).
Reprinted with permission from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Copyright 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 2 small fennel bulbs
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 tablespoons chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 mild chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 tiger prawns
- 12 ounces (350 g) cleaned baby squid
- 1 tablespoon sumac
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Coarse sea salt
- Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)
Trim the bases and tops of the fennel bulbs, then slice crosswise as thinly as you can. A mandoline would be useful here. In a large bowl, mix the fennel and red onion with the lime zest and juice, garlic, dill, parsley, chile, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
To prepare the prawns, peel the shells away from the bodies, keeping the tail segment of the shell on. Cut a shallow slit along the back of each prawn and use the tip of a small knife to remove the dark vein.
Place a heavy cast-iron pan, preferably a ridged grill pan, over high heat and leave for a few minutes until piping hot. Meanwhile, mix the prawns and squid with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt. Grill them in small batches, turning them over after 1 minute and continuing until just done (about 1 more minute for the squid and 2 to 3 for the prawns). Transfer to a cutting board and slice the squid into thick rings. You can leave the prawns whole or cut them in half.
Add the seafood to the salad bowl and toss together. You can serve the salad immediately or leave it in the fridge for up to 1 day. To serve, stir in the sumac and cilantro, then taste and adjust the seasoning. When pomegranate seeds are available, they make a beautiful garnish.