Salads make a perfect meal year-round, but especially during the warmer months. Served at room temperature, there’s no rush to get them to the table hot, and they can be enjoyed at a leisurely pace. Seafood, with its light flavours and array of colours, is perfect for warm or cold salads, as entrées, light meals or buffet dishes.
Here are a couple of classic seafood salads:
Prawn cocktail, that great 1970s and 80s dinner party entrée, is back with a vengeance. And why not? Made with fresh ingredients it’s a deliciously simple dish that deserves to stay in fashion. It traditionally consists of prawns in a cocktail sauce on a bed of iceberg lettuce. Marie-Rose, the classic cocktail sauce, is mayonnaise tinted pale pink with tomato ketchup (never the thinner, more acidic tomato sauce) and lifted with a little lemon juice and chilli in the form of Tabasco or cayenne pepper. You can use already cooked prawns, but you’ll find they’re much more tender when freshly boiled.
Salade Niçoise, from the city of Nice in southern France, is traditionally associated with canned tuna, for which the Mediterranean is famous. It was however originally a cold vegetable salad, tuna being a later addition.
Tips for making other seafood salads:
- For a substantial salad, start by choosing a carbohydrate: boiled potatoes, pasta, rice, couscous, cracked wheat or other grains. This could be determined by what leftovers you have on hand.
- Add any seafood you like, although it’s usually best to keep flavours simple and stay with just one variety.
- Next add one or more vegetables, soft salad leaves or crisp greens such as asparagus.
- Fresh herbs lift flavour and aroma; flat-leaf parsley, chervil, dill and coriander are all suitable, green onions add a bit of heat.
- The dressing can be vinaigrette-based (oil plus citrus or vinegar) or a creamy, mayonnaise-based version. Either way be sure to add it at the last moment so leaves and vegetables don’t wilt, and stir it through gently so as not to break up the seafood.
- Seek inspiration from simple classic salads such as coleslaw, tabouli, Waldorf or Caesar, using them as a base to create your own seafood creations.