August 20, 2014

Spicy Shrimp Stuffed Avocados

Writing about our recent trip to Paris has made me crave some of the foods we enjoyed whilst there. On our first night, after our tour of Montmartre, we were cold and tired and hungry. Luckily, there were dozens of restaurants near our apartment. We chose one at random (I wish I remembered the name), and had a great meal.

But it was our appetizer that really stuck in my brain and just won't get out. It was creamy, a little bit spicy, and absolutely de-lish. Of course I had to recreate it!

Nom nom nom nom nom!

I love avocado anything, so this totally appealed to me. Shrimp salad stuffed inside an avocado? Heck yes! The nice thing is that you could serve this as an appetizer, but it makes a great main dish as well. The Hubs and I ate it for dinner.

I will forewarn you: This recipe is complicated. BUT, you can take some shortcuts that actually make the recipe extremely simple. For example, you can buy your shrimp already cooked. And you can use regular mayonnaise and simply add the spice to it, rather than making your own. So don't be scared, ok?

Ok, let's get this party started!

Cooking the shrimp

We'll begin by cooking the shrimp. If you choose, you can buy your shrimp pre-cooked and skip this step. I think they taste better when you do it yourself, though.

So, add 1 thinly sliced lemon, ½ thinly sliced sweet onion, and 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to a large pot of water. Bring it to a boil. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then add 2 pounds of uncooked shrimp with the shells on (cooking with the shells adds extra flavor). Continue to boil for 4-6 minutes, until the shrimp are done. Then immediately plunge the shrimp into an ice bath. This stops the cooking process. You don't want your shrimp to become overcooked and rubbery.

When the shrimp have cooled sufficiently, you can peel them and set them aside for later use.

Next, we'll make our mayo. Again, you could purchase regular mayo and add seasoning to it rather than making your own. But it won't taste quite the same. And this isn't as hard as you think it is, I promise! Here's what you need:

Spicy mayonnaise ingredients 

As usual, I forgot an ingredient in the picture. Whoopsie! (You also need 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce). I highly recommend the use of a food processor for this task. You can make this with an immersion blender as well, or the really brave can whisk by hand. But that adds unnecessary difficulties to your life.

To your food processor add 1 teaspoon of paprika, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, 1 large egg (at room temperature, very important!), 2 egg yolks (also at room temperature), ½ teaspoon dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice. Whirl it all around until the mixture is nice and creamy.

Here is my best advice for making mayo… first, make sure your ingredients are as fresh as possible. Don't use old eggs. Second, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin. And third, when you begin adding the oil (next step), do it as slowly as possible.

Like, it's ok if this next step takes you 5 minutes or more.

With your food processor whirring away, slowly slowly drizzle in 1 ½ cups of canola oil. Begin by barely dripping the oil into the mixture. If the oil doesn't properly incorporate, then your mayonnaise will break. That is no good, my friends. As you drizzle in the oil, you'll notice your mixture thickening. This is good! Once you've added all of the oil, your mayo will look something like this:

Spicy mayonnaise
Yum! Again, you could always spice up the mayo you already have in your fridge. But once you try this, you'll see how easy it really is and you'll never go back. The depth of flavor is worth it.

You're almost done now… Add 1 cup of the spicy mayo to your shrimp. The mayo actually yields about 1 ¾ cups, so I save the extra and use it on sandwiches during the week. You can also drizzle a bit extra over your dish once it's complete, if you'd like a little more sauce. Also stir in 1 diced bell pepper, 2 stalks of diced celery, and 1 finely minced shallot.

The rest is all assembly. Cut your avocados in half and remove the pits, then gently scoop out the pulp in one piece. I totally should have taken pictures of this process, but I was so excited to eat that I forgot! Luckily, Real Simple has an easy tutorial you can follow.

Fill the hole left by the pit in your avocado with the shrimp salad. Put a big old heaping scoop in there! Sprinkle a little cilantro on top, and serve with a salad on the side. My salad contained some spring mix, grape tomatoes, and radishes. Add a lemon wedge to the plate too.

Mmmmmm….. you're all ready to eat! Slice up your avocado and eat with the salad, squeezing the lemon wedge over the top of everything.

I'm so happy I can take myself back to Paris with just a bite of this dish. As always, the standard recipe is below. I'll be back soon with more tales of our adventures in the City of Lights. Until next time, happy cooking!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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Spicy Shrimp Stuffed Avocados


For the shrimp:
2  lbs. uncooked shrimp, shell on
1 lemon, thinly sliced
½ sweet onion, sliced
2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1 small shallot, minced
1 red pepper, finely diced

For the spicy mayo: (all ingredients must be at room temperature)
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 ½ cups organic canola oil

To serve:
4 avocados
2 pints grape tomatoes
Spring mix
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 bunch radishes, julienned
4 tablespoons cilantro, for garnish


To cook the shrimp: Add 1 lemon (thinly sliced), ½ sweet onion (thinly sliced), and 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning to a large pot of water. Bring water to a rolling boil. Allow to boil 5 minutes, then add the shrimp to the pot. Boil for 4-6 minutes, until the shrimp are done. Remove immediately and plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once the shrimp has cooled, peel and set aside for later use.

To make the spicy mayo: Add all the ingredients except the oil to a food processor. Blend until smooth. With the food processor running, very slowly drizzle in the oil. It should take at least 5 minutes to drizzle in all of the oil. If this is done too quickly, then the mayo will not emulsify and it will break. Whir in the food processor until creamy.

For the shrimp salad: Mix the cooked and cooled shrimp with one cup of the spicy mayonnaise (save the remainder of the mayonnaise for use on sandwiches, etc). Stir in the red bell pepper, celery, and shallot. Set aside.

To assemble: Slice the avocados in half and remove the pit. Gently run a spoon around the edges of the avocado and scoop out the pulp in one solid piece. Place on a plate and fill the hole in the avocado with shrimp salad to overflowing. Sprinkle cilantro on top of the shrimp salad. Garnish the plate with a small salad of spring mix, grape tomatoes, and radish. Serve with a lemon wedge (this should be squeezed over the avocado and salad. They should be eaten together). 

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