The time is right for summer salads gussied up with light proteins. Boiled shrimp is the perfect candidate, especially paired with orange, avocado and mint, as it is here.
There is a problem, however; shrimp often becomes bland and chewy when it's boiled. In fact, all proteins tend to turn tough when they're subjected to the violence of boiling water. And if the boiling water isn't well-salted, the protein in question will end up flavorless and tough.
At first, I tried to avoid these pitfalls by gently simmering the shrimp. This resulted in a modest improvement. Then — eureka! — I decided to take a cue from my favorite new way to make a hard-boiled egg, which is not to boil it at all, but to steam it instead. The result was amazing. Steamed shrimp is much tenderer than boiled shrimp. As for the flavor, I amped it up by making sure the water was heavily salted.
Steaming the shrimp cooks them thoroughly in two minutes or so, depending on size. Then you chill them briefly in ice water to stop the cooking and pat them dry. Now they're ready to go.
The dressing for this salad was inspired by various Asian cuisines: reduced fresh orange juice flavored with ginger, sesame oil and chili paste. It requires only 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, making it very light.
I have further outfitted the salad with avocado, fresh orange slices and toasted peanuts. But feel free to swap in the vegetables of your choice (shredded carrots, perhaps, or sliced cucumbers) and your favorite nuts. Or leave out the nuts altogether.
This light salad will cool you off on a hot night — and delight your taste buds in the process.