It’s time again for the Leftover Queen’s Royal Foodie Joust! This month the ingredients are Cilantro, Sesame, and Seafood. For some reason I thought immediately of tahini, the delicious Middle Eastern/Mediterranean sesame paste. Then I was stumped for a while, because I wasn’t quite sure how to work the cilantro in, or which seafood to choose (it’s a pretty broad category). But one afternoon, over lunch with Hope, she mentioned that she had been playing around with gazpacho lately, and it struck me as the perfect vehicle. Somehow avocados came up, and by the time lunch was over I had a recipe jumping around in my brain, just waiting to be made a reality.
We picked up some avocados and cilantro at the market the next day. I had decided on seared scallops for the seafood quotient, but was unable to find any at the market. I briefly considered going the crispy-skin seabass route, but an overly long line at the fishmonger on my lunch hour made that decision for me. Ultimately, I settled on shrimp for their ability to pair awesomely with avocado.
When I finally cut into the avocados, I was pleased to find some of the most gorgeous, buttery-green specimens I’ve seen in France.
The gazpacho was really easy to put together: I just threw all the ingredients (avocados, cilantro, lime juice, tahini, garlic, fish stock, salt, cayenne) in a bowl, like so:
…and whizzed them with my beloved immersion blender.
Then I just stuck the bowl in the fridge to chill while I wrestled with beheading, peeling and deveining the shrimp. (You’ll notice in the recipe that I call for peeled and deveined shrimp – which I would have used if they were available here, but as far as I can tell, they are nonexistent.) I toasted some sesame seeds and then used the same pan to quickly sauté the shrimp.
A ladle of soup, a pile of shrimp, a smattering of sesame seeds, and a sprig of cilantro later, we had an absolutely delicious dinner!
Avocado-Sesame Gazpacho with Cilantro and Sautéed Shrimp
3 medium avocados, diced
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro (about ½ a bunch)
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. tahini
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice of ½ a lime
1 ¼ tsp. coarse sea salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup fish stock
½ cup water
8 oz. peeled and deveined raw shrimp (16/20 or 20/25 size)
Freshly ground black pepper
Toasted sesame seeds
- Combine the avocado, chopped cilantro, tahini, garlic, lime juice, salt, cayenne, stock, and water in a bowl. Purée using an immersion blender. (Or a regular blender if you’re still living in the Stone Age.) Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least an hour.
- When you’re almost ready to eat, heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom and heat until shimmering. Throw the shrimp in the pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté 3-5 minutes, until shrimp have some nicely browned bits and are opaque. Remove from heat and toss with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds.
- Ladle the chilled soup into shallow soup bowls and arrange hot shrimp in the center. Strew a few more sesame seeds over the shrimp and soup, and garnish with cilantro leaves.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4-6 as a first course.