Spicy Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Cashews

Haven’t you often wondered how they make the delicious citrus dressing that glorifies the Iceberg salads often served at sushi restaurants? The orange dressing in this recipe is my attempt at duplicating it, and I think I’ve come pretty close.

With the dressing in hand, I wondered just which ingredients—other than Iceberg lettuce—to dress. I came up with a refreshing combination of shrimp, avocado, and cucumbers. The chiles and mint also help to make this a lively entree or first course. Once you have styled it beautifully on the plates—with alternating slices of avocado and cucumber and a nice mound of shrimp—your friends will be impressed.

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon Asian chile paste*
2 teaspoons Asian (toasted) sesame oil*
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the salad:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 garlic clove
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 fresh Thai chiles, sliced into paper-thin rounds or 1 Serrano, stemmed, seeded, and sliced into thin rounds, or 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons shredded fresh mint leaves
2 large firm ripe Hass avocados, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup toasted salted cashews, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and thinly sliced

Serves 4

To make the dressing, combine the orange juice, chile paste, sesame oil, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Whisk to blend and season with salt and pepper. You should have about 1/2 cup.

To prepare the salad, place the oil in a large skillet or wok. Heat over medium-high heat until almost smoking. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring often, until light pink, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute longer. Toss the shrimp with three quarters of the dressing while warm. Stir in the chiles and the mint.

Arrange alternating slices of avocado and cucumber decoratively on 4 salad plates. Mound equal amounts of the shrimp in the center and sprinkle with the cashews and scallions. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the avocado and cucumber slices. Serve at room temperature.

* Available at Asian markets and many supermarkets.

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