Monday, October 20, 2008
Swedish West Coast Salad
There was a time when villages did raise children. I lived in one on the south side of Chicago and the arteries that fed 83rd Street were lined with the homes of my other "moms" - Jewish, German, Swedish, Italian and Irish women - who helped my parents raise me. They would discipline, teach and bandage, then, cruel fate, drag you home for yet another round of reckoning. Housing shortages kept our neighborhood intact until the mid 50's, so I had an orchestra seat - front row center - for viewing families, traditions, and cuisine, in many hues, as I grew up. Today I made a quick trip to the mall. They are set for Christmas - only Santa Claus is missing. Stan Freeburg's parody Green Chri$tma$ - "we wish you a Merry Christmas and please buy our beer" - started running through my mind and I couldn't shake it. As a distraction, I started thinking about Christmas traditions on 83rd Street and the open house given by one of our neighbors - my Swedish "mom". It was there I first sampled gravlaux and West Coast Salad. Recipes for gravlaux abound, but a recipe for the salad was more difficult to find. I stumbled on one by Beatrice Ojakangas in Scandinavian Feasts. Her recipe uses lobster, shrimp, crabmeat, mussels and caviar; it's absolutely delicious, but prohibitively expensive. My version captures the spirit and freshness of the salad but is more affordable. This is a light, uptown supper. Enjoy!
Swedish West Coast Salad
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 drop dill oil or 6 tablespoons fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1-1/2 to 2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 pound white mushrooms, sliced
1 English cucumber, cut in 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup pimentos, drained
3 hard boiled eggs, cut into wedges
1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
Garnish: Boston lettuce leaves, fresh dill or parsley
1) Combine oil, vinegar, dill oil or fresh dill, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until blended. Set aside.
2) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, or until shrimp curl and turn pink. Drain. Toss with dill salad dressing. Chill for at least 1 hour.
3) Add mushrooms, cucumber, pimentos, eggs and peas to shrimp. Toss lightly. Line a platter with lettuce leaves. With a slotted spoon, transfer salad to platter. Garnish with fresh dill or parsley. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
Cook's Note: I use dill oil rather than fresh dill. This is an essential oil that allows you to control the flavor's intensity. Fresh dill is not always available in my area. The oil, which I also use for canning, is available at farm stands or can be ordered through online grocers. I have included a link for you.