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Easy Seafood Salads

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Looking to make some easy seafood salads? No matter which treasures of the sea you might fish up, dip up or dive up, you can bet they will make a wonderful main dish salad—either individually or in combination with others that wear the label “seafood.”

In Florida, self-harvested seafood most often means fish of many varieties, plus shrimp, blue crab, and (for some sportsmen and in season) lobster. The last consecutive Wednesday and Thursday in July are set aside every year for the sport lobster season.

Although the regular season for lobster starts in August and lasts all winter, recreational diving takes place mostly during hot weather, and hot weather is an excellent time for a cold lunch or dinner.

For my money the very best of all cold seafood dishes is Lobster Louie. But maybe you prefer to hoard all your hard-won lobster tails for grilling or broiling. Or—more likely—maybe you aren't among the eager crowd of lobster-seekers who invade South Florida waters each July. No problem. Just make your “Louie” out of shrimp or crab, or even of bite-size chunks of whatever leftover cold fish you find in your fridge. Is it sacrilege to make “imitation Lobster Louie” out of some other seafood? Heck no, considering that Lobster Louie is itself an imitation of the original, Crab Louie. So let's just say Seafood Louie.

Seafood Louie is presented differently than other seafood salads, in which the ingredients are mixed together. As you'll see in the following recipe, Louie ingredients are served separately and, if you aren't in a hurry, artistically. No quantities are specified because Louie is usually built in individual servings.

SHRIMPY FISH SALAD

1 lb. flaked fish

1 cup shrimp, chopped

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup celery, chopped fine

1 tsp. dill weed

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Salt and pepper

Combine fish and shrimp and toss lightly with lemon juice. Add celery, mayonnaise, onion and dill. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Arrange on a bed of lettuce with quartered eggs as garnish, along with some whole shrimp, if desired. Serves six.

Before you can make your salad you have to separate the flesh of your leftover fish from the bones, if any. Your fingers—presumably just washed—are the best tools for this. Feel carefully, because if you leave a single little bone in there somewhere the most bone-leery person among the diners is sure to be the one who chomps down on it. Boneless fillets, of course, are the easiest to flake. You need only operate on them with a fork. If using fried fish, scrape away as much of the breading as you can. Some of it will remain but is not likely to affect the result.

SEAFOOD LOUIE

Florida lobster meat, chunked or

Shrimp, cleaned and boiled or

Crabmeat, preferable from the backfin or

Leftover fish, chunked

Lettuce

Asparagus spears

Tomato wedges

Black olives

Eggs, hard boiled and quartered

Cucumber, sliced

Salt and pepper

Louie dressing (see below)

Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water for about three minutes. Set aside. Cover bottom of a single-serve salad bowl with lettuce. Mound the chunks of lobster on top of the lettuce. Arrange asparagus and the other ingredients around the edge of the bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over the lobster as copiously as you wish. Serve with crackers.

Louie dressing is made by mixing two parts mayonnaise and one part chili sauce with a little sweet pickle relish and a dash of Worcestershire. Alternatively, you can use the lazy man's Louie sauce, which is bottled Russian dressing. Thousand Island dressing is fine, too.

Cooked fish usually is milder but otherwise not so different from cooked shrimp or crab and it can be substituted in any recipe calling for those other seafoods. This should be especially good news to the many people who are allergic to shellfish. Since their allergy usually does not extend to finfish, they can use flaked fish instead and enjoy a number of very popular “shrimp” dishes, such as these. Those who suffer from a shellfish allergy will, of course, leave out the shrimp and increase the amount of fish. Non-allergic readers are free to do the same.

First appeared in Florida Sportsman, July, 2011 issue.

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