By Angela Denstad Stigeler
Just in summer’s full flush comes the first inkling that the season’s end is hastening on. So it’s time to live up the best of the season through these warm August nights. For a real fiesta of a first course, or as a late night refresher, spice things up with a little salsa. A sultry shrimp cocktail dressed in the season’s best, this little number has it all—tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados and herbs, all in rhythm. Serve it up in martini glasses or oversized goblets, scoop it up with some salty tortilla chips, and let the salsa play until the summer fades out.
1 pound small or medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups finely diced fresh tomato
½ cup finely diced red onion
4-5 scallions, whites and tender greens thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 avocado, cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce, to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving
Bring a quart of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add a teaspoon of salt along with the paprika, cumin, bay leaves and cayenne pepper; let cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, stir and return to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Drain the shrimp and let them cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix the diced tomato, red onion, scallion and cucumber with the rest of the salt. Stir occasionally to help release the juices and let the flavors combine. When ready to serve, add in the shrimp, avocado and cilantro. Stir well and season with hot sauce to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.