Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Ginger-Soy Dressing, A la Shinozawa

Ebi no Shōga-Jōyu Doresshingu

Many Japanese restaurants in the United States serve a small green salad with a soy-based dressing, and their happy American patrons are convinced that it is a“classic” Japanese dish. It’s not classic, though it is authentic. The soy-based vinaigrette is a popular dressing served with main-course seafood salads at many Continental-style restaurants in Japan. The following recipe comes compliments of Chef Shinozawa of the Blue Gardenia restaurant, atop the forty-story Akasaka Prince Hotel in Tokyo.

Ingredients

  • 2 large shrimp with shells and tails intact
  • 2 tablespoons saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 packet (about 5 ounces) harusamé (“spring rain”) noodles
  • 1 large, very ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Shinozawa Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons fruity olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon very finely minced onion
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange and/or lemon peel, optional
  • pinch salt
  • pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head Boston or other soft-leafed lettuce, separated, washed, and spun dry

Method

  1. Peel the shrimp, leaving the tail and last segment of shell attached. With a sharp knife, make a shallow slit down the rounded back of each shrimp and devein it.
  2. Mix the rice wine and cornstarch until smooth. Toss the shrimp in the mixture to coat them well. Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil and blanch the shrimp, five or six at a time, for 1 minute until just tender. Remove the shrimp from the pot with a slotted spoon and let them cool to room temperature. Then cover them with clear plastic wrap, and chill them.
  3. Bring a fresh pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat, and let the noodles soak in the hot water for another 3-5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water to remove excess starch, and drain again. Cover, and chill the noodles until ready to serve.
  4. Slice the avocado into eight strips; peel off the skin and cut each strip into thirds, slightly on the diagonal. Toss these pieces in the lemon juice, to hold their color. Cover, and chill until ready to serve.
  5. Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender, and process until the mixture is smooth and all ingredients are well distributed. Add the citrus peel for extra texture and a refreshingly bitter“bite.”
  6. Assemble the plates: On each of four dinner plates, arrange lettuce leaves to cover most of the center surface. Arrange six shrimp on the lettuce toward the left and back; mound a portion of the avocado pieces to the right of the shrimp. Divide the noodles into four portions, and arrange one in the front center position of each plate. Serve the dressing separately for everyone to pour over their salad.

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