I’m about to admit something that I used to do which was pretty gross. I want to give a little preface first before I tell you. But be warned, either you will be nauseous or proud when you read it. But first the Joyce-ian digression.
Most of my food/technique discovery comes from having access to a full fridge (well, full of Japanese and Taiwanese goods) and a kitchen to myself after school. I mastered the egg drop technique, how to quickly chop scallions, melting cheese in the microwave [sort of], and making pancake from scratch. I also had the opportunity to try playing with ingridients. I figured out that fermented back beans don’t taste good in Kraft Mac and Cheese, rice vinegar is awesome when used in pan frying dumpling wrappers, and stir fried iceberg lettuce with garlic salt isn’t half bad. The best thing about having access to a fridge after school with no one around is exactly that, I got to do things that I would have been judged for by family members based on standards of ethics and health.
So, the thing that I have feared to admit is that I used to eat mayonnaise out of the jar. Gasp!
Mayonnaise is not a popular ingredient in Taiwan. It arrived in Asia through Japan by the military. Eventually it found its way through other Asian regions and now is an important part of a young Taiwanese boy’s discovery of a highly coloric condiment. I still remember how the habit started. Whenever we went to a Chinese seafood restaurant, we would sometimes get boiled abolone. As part of the dish, a small serving of mayonnaise would be provided as dip. I would always limit myself at the table. Well, my mom would always limit me. I later discovered that shrimp could also be dipped in this pillow-y and rich goodness. So, if shrimp was ever cooked at home, I would take out the jar of mayonnaise, which I convinced my parents was necessary to have in an American house hold, and put about a tablespoon of it on the shrimp (yes singular) and enjoy every moment of the fatty, smooth, emulsion. It was when I was spooning the stuff out of the jar and having a little taste after school that I knew I hit rock bottom. I was a ten year old junkie and my drug was mayonnaise.
I’m proud to say that I have quit cold turkey, and I no longer spoon any fatty substance in my mouth in large quantities. I do however keep some mayonnaise in my fridge in case of relapse and as a reminder of my junkie days. I now prefer the japanese version much better than the classic American styles. Instead of white vinegar as the main acid, rice or cider vinegar is used to add a slight sweetness. My favorite brand is Kewpie because it is mostly egg yolk which gives it a creamier texture and the vinegar is a blend of cider and malt which provides a subtle sweet flavor. It goes great with the natural sweetness of shrimp. Especially in this dish.
I love this salad. It allows me to cheat on my “no eating mayonnaise out of jar” rule. It also is a great blend with the tartness of the lemon juice, spice of the chili, and creaminess of the star of the dish: mayonnaise. You can use this base for any other salad (crab, scallop, chicken, tuna) but shrimp and mayonnaise is a combination that will always trigger great memories of my childhood. You can do this with day old shrimp. What I like to do sometimes is double the amount of shrimp I need to make sure I have enough for a salad the next day. So, I bought two pounds. Ok, maybe my problem is not just mayonnaise but also shrimp. Although, I think we established that already.
Whew, I’m glad I got that off my chest. I can now move on with my next 90 posts without fear that my dirty secret would come out. Enjoy.
1 lb shrimp, cooked, shelled & cut into pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium lemon, zest and 1/2 of the juice
1 tsp togorashi, more if you want it spicy
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Japanese style)
1 small shallot, minced
salt and pepper to taste
combine all ingredients in a bowl
serve in a toasted roll as a sandwich or over a bed of lettuce for a primal option