Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jicama Passion Salad w/ Shrimp

I will admit there are many foods I have yet to try in my life. A semi-picky eater as a child, then vegetarian for six years, left me many missed opportunities. So it is only recently that I am opening my doors to the new. Last week it was skate, over the weekend it was pork belly, and today it is passion fruit.

It is true. I must sadly come to terms to the fact that I have never (knowingly) had passion fruit before today-- okay, two days before: At a recent brunch I discussed with friend, R, how I love Looza’s Tomato Juice because it is 100% pure tomato juice—the perfect base for an excellent Bloody Mary. He dared me to try the Passion Fruit, “truly amazing.” So the next time I saw it in stock I took the challenge and bought some. Once in my mouth I was brought to the Caribbean.

So as I went shopping one day my eyes fell upon a plum-looking fruit. The sign read “Passion Fruit.” A bit pricey at $1.50 a piece; I decided it needed trying, regardless.

Originally from Brazil, passion fruit got its name from Spanish missionaries who thought the fruit resembled religious symbols, like the crown of thorns. In Spanish, it is known as granadilla or “little pomegranate,” possibly because like the pomegranate, it is the pulpy seeds that are eaten.

Passion fruits are small with an overwhelmingly sweet pulp that is often strained for juice or sauces (though the seeds can be eaten). A good source of vitamins A, C and fiber (some claim it to be the highest fiber source of all fruits) and high in potassium, the flavor and health benefits of these little wonders go a long way.

Passion fruits are available in shades of purple or yellow (a more tart fruit) depending on the variety. When purchasing, pick the largest fruit available. It should be firm and as it ripens, the skin’s ridgidity should keep, while becoming slightly shriveled when ripe. When it is ready to eat, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and use them as-is or strain the pulp and just use the juice. Either way, this fruit is pure indulgence that should be tried.

The combination in this salad was pure tropic. The light, watery crispness of jicama (hick-e-ma) pairs perfectly with the buttery smoothness of avocado. A sprinkling of cayenne pepper gives this salad a great kick. When drizzled with passion fruit seeds and a smattering of shrimp, this salad is utterly delicious.

Serves 2. Active Time= 15 minutes. Inactive time= 1 hour.
* 1 lb large shrimp, peeled and de-veined
* 1- 12oz can lager beer
* juice of 1 lime
* 2 scallions, chopped
* 1 avocado, sliced ¼-inch thick
* 1 jicama, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
* 1 passion fruit, pulp only
* 2 tsp cayenne pepper

1) Place the cleaned shrimp, beer, lime and scallion in a bowl. Mix and let marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
2) When shrimp are done, using a grill pan (or real grill) set to medium cook the shrimp, 2-3 minutes each side, until they turn pink/ char slightly and curl. Place in a fresh bowl in the refrigerator to chill while prepping the rest.
3) Peel and slice the avocado and jicama, arranging them on 2 plates. Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and arrange it on the plate. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper and passion fruit pulp. Drizzle with lime juice (optional).

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