Ever eaten a dish you could never forget? For our founder, Nina, that was a fresh conch salad she had while vacationing in the Bahamas. While visiting New Providence, an island native taught her how to make conch salad from scratch. Ask That Salad Lady and she’ll tell you it was one of the best seafood salads she’s ever had.
After returning home, she was eager to re-create her own version, but living in Chicago at the time, it was difficult to find fresh conch in stores. So That Salad Lady put her own spin on the blend with shrimp in what would ultimately become our “Spicy Shrimp Salad.”
If you like a little spice in your life, this is definitely your bowl! An amazing flavor combination of sautéed shrimp and fresh veggies with citrus juices and habanero pepper to kick up the heat, it’s the next best thing to a Bahamian-style conch salad. Best of all, it requires little cooking and comes together in 20 minutes or less.
THE BALANCING ACT
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting any one of the 30 or so inhabited islands of the Bahamas, you’ve likely had or heard of conch salad. It’s indeed their signature dish. A good conch salad is packed full of raw conch, which is indigenous to the Bahamas and also served a lot at many South Floridian restaurants.
If you’re in an area where fresh conch meat is available, we highly recommend giving it a try. Otherwise, we promise That Salad Lady’s ‘conch-inspired’ Spicy Shrimp Salad will be one of the best spin-off recipes you’ve ever experienced.
Now, if you’re trying to reduce your cholesterol intake, you might be concerned about the cholesterol content of shrimp. Despite common belief, research has continued to show that dietary cholesterol (the cholesterol found in the foods we eat) contributes very little, if any, to the development of high cholesterol and related health problems.
Cholesterol aside, shrimp are an excellent source of quality protein and immunity-boosting antioxidant minerals like copper, zinc and selenium. They’re made even more nutritious and delicious when combined with all the other ingredients in our recipe.
Let’s talk more about the ingredients in That Salad Lady’s Spicy Shrimp Salad and why we chose to include them.
The One and Only “Fruit of the Sea”
By now you already know that shrimp are the highlight of our recipe. As “Bubba” famously put it in Forrest Gump, “shrimp is the fruit of the sea” – and we certainly agree. Here at That Salad Lady, we love the amazing versatility of this wildly popular seafood. Feel free to use whatever kind of shrimp you like so long as they are peeled and deveined.
If using raw shrimp, we suggest lightly seasoning and then sautéing them on your stovetop. You can also use pre-cooked, ready-to-eat shrimp to save yourself some time.
That Salad Lady generally uses white shrimp for the recipe. White fish are tender in texture and have a pleasantly mild flavor. They’re especially great for soaking in the citrus and habanero flavors in the blend and their size and texture really stand out. Pink shrimp work too, as they’re also sweet with an even more mild flavor profile.
As we’ve already mentioned, shrimp boast a pretty impressive nutrient profile, with high doses of protein, B vitamins and antioxidants. Notably, shrimp provide almost 100% of a day’s worth of the antioxidant selenium, an often overlooked mineral that supports healthy thyroid function. Selenium also amplifies the beneficial effects of other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
A Colorful Array of Fresh Garden Veggies
As with all our salad bowl recipes, That Salad Lady’s Spicy Shrimp Salad includes a rainbow of fresh veggies including tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and onion. These are classic ingredients of a Bahamian-style conch salad.
We especially love the sweet flavor and craveable meaty texture Roma tomatoes bring to the bowl, but feel free to use whatever you have – all red tomatoes are equally nutritious (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). The cucumber brings a characteristically refreshing crisp and crunchy texture that really sets off the salad.
English cucumbers (also known as “hothouse” or “seedless” cucumbers) work best. Though referred to as “seedless”, these cucumbers do in fact have seeds – they’re just very tiny. The smaller the cucumber seeds, the less water they hold.
Then there’s onion, specifically red onion, which of all onions, is the mildest in flavor and the highest in antioxidants. As mentioned earlier, we throw in some bell pepper too, which gives the blend even more crispy, crunchy texture. We suggest going with yellow, orange or red varieties, as they’re naturally sweeter and more nutrient-rich than green.
The Boldest Combination of Citrus and Spice
For the perfect finish, we top off our Spicy Shrimp Salad with minced habanero pepper, a splash of Caribbean-style hot pepper sauce along with sprinkles of sweet paprika and crushed red pepper flakes.
Besides packing in flavorful, spicy punch, collectively, due to high levels of capsaicin (the chemical compound that makes them hot and spicy), these ingredients have powerful thermogenic effects that naturally help boost your body’s ability to burn fat (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more about thermogenic foods).
The bold blend of spicy ingredients is complemented by a deliciously tangy dressing made with freshly squeezed lemon, lime and orange juices. Our recipe also calls for using extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) as a base, which delivers a rich, pepper flavory and a hefty dose of good fat. You really don’t need much more than that!
If you choose to sauté your own shrimp, it’s literally the only ingredient that requires cooking. Our recipe calls for peeled and deveined white shrimp but, again, feel free to use whatever kind you like. If you’re using frozen shrimp, it’s best to thaw them first. If using larger shrimp, we suggest slicing them crosswise into bite-sized pieces just prior to sautéing them. You can do this with either kitchen shears or a sharp knife.
Once you’ve prepared the shrimp, you’ll simply preheat some EVOO in a skillet or sauté pan, add the shrimp with a light coat of seasoning and give them a quick sauté over medium-high heat, turning them often as they cook (see recipe card). Remove the shrimp as soon as they turn pink and then set them aside to cool. The total cooking time is about 4-6 minutes.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
Once the shrimp are out of the way, all you’ll have to do is chop up the veggies. As always, using a high-quality chef’s knife will make the process a whole lot easier. We suggest chopping the tomato, cucumber, bell pepper and onion along with the habanero pepper in one take. That Salad Lady recommends wearing plastic gloves when handling and chopping fresh habanero to protect your skin from “capsaicin burn.”
After your ingredients are chopped up, combine them in a large bowl along with your sautéed or pre-cooked shrimp and mix everything well for a nice, even distribution of colors. We recommend letting the mixture chill in the fridge while you prepare the citrus dressing.
Mixing the citrus dressing is the final step and it’s a simple one. Just whisk the EVOO and citrus juices together with either a whisk or a fork. You can even add them separately when building your bowl (see recipe video). Doesn’t get much simpler than that.
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to build your bowl, simply drizzle the citrus dressing on the salad, season it to taste with hot pepper sauce, sweet paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, ground black pepper and kosher salt, and mix everything well. Go easy on the salt as a little goes a very long way. Since the habanero pepper alone is very hot, we also suggest going easy on the pepper sauce and flakes, gradually adding them to taste.
Once you’ve seasoned the Spicy Shrimp Salad to your liking, cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and allow it to chill for about an hour before eating or serving it. This Spicy Shrimp Salad bowl is gluten-free, keto-friendly and unbelievably filling and satisfying.
All put together, the actual blend is large enough for four generous servings. For a unique flavor twist and added nutrition, you can also add chopped avocado to each serving. Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store the basic blend in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days. In an airtight sealed container, leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.