Shrimp Tempura Pasta Salad
In the summertime I desire cool, light meals of delights I call Salad Samplers. The Shrimp Tempura Pasta Salad is one I prepared for a birthday party of ten guests. Casual enough for a barbecue but fussy enough for fancy friends, this salad is always dressed to impress.
African-American cuisine or soul food is often categorized as unpretentious or simple food. The Netflix series High On The Hog showed that from the onset of our national origin, Black people were deemed the best chefs because they were the people cooking for the heads of state and captains of industry. Then, as now, most of the celebrity chefs were men.
A little known story however is that of Black hotelier and the first resort owner in Arizona, Annie Box Neal. Born on an Oklahoma Cherokee Reservation in 1870, like me Annie Box grew up in Tucson, Arizona. Unlike me, she had been married and divorced twice by age 17. A former scout for Buffalo Bill Cody by the name of William “Curly” Neal, 21-years her senior, is the man Annie married for good on January 4, 1892. A divorcee himself and former cook, Curly ran a stage coach business that was so successful he became one of the wealthiest men in the territory.
In 1894, Curly decided to build a luxury health spa and resort for wealthy patrons that Annie would manage. The couple paid $90,000 to construct the opulent Mountain View Hotel in Oracle, Arizona, which is still a popular destination for Midwestern retirees. At the grand opening in 1895, according to all accounts, Annie’s attention to detail was impeccable. One newspaper declared the hotel “[a] charming resort…Tucson’s Favorite Mountain Resort and Health Sanitarium.” Word spread about the pampering proprietress, thus soon celebrities, multi-millionaires and debutantes looking for suitable mates began to come from all over the world.
“Wine and champagne from the wine cellar flowed freely. The food was fit for a king, with a menu featuring fresh fruit and vegetables from the hotel’s lavish gardens. Every imaginable delicacy had been prepared; even the garnishes were works of art.” I never knew of Annie Box Neal until recently, but I knew countless Black women like her. In remembrance of her forgotten legacy, I would serve the Shrimp Tempura Pasta Salad with a Summer Squash Gratin because Nana, my grandmother, used to grow squash here in Tucson, and it is a fitting garden fresh, dish for a queen.
Shrimp Tempura Pasta Salad
- Large Pot
- Large Frying Pan
- Paring Knife
- Cutting Board
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Large Wooden Spoon
- Small Mixing Bowl
- Large Mixing Bowl
- 2 Large Plates
- Shallow Bowl
- Small Bowl
- Paper Towels
- 13-by-9-inch (or 3- to 5-quart) Serving Dish
- 16 oz. Gluten Free Fusilli
- 6 cups Water
- 2 Avocados, medium diced
- 1 Large Cucumber, medium diced
- 1 cup Organic Mayonnaise
- ¼ cup Green Onions, chopped
- ¼ cup Fish Sauce
- 2 tsp Frontier Co-op Seafood Seasoning
- 2 tsp Wasabi Paste
- 2 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Ginger, powdered
- 1 tsp Lemon Juice
- ½ tbsp Real Salt
- Nori, Garnish
- 12 oz. Trader Joe's Wild Raw Argentinian Red Shrimp
- 6 oz. Kinnikinnick Gluten Free Panko Style Bread Crumbs
- 2 Eggs, lightly beaten
- ¼ cup Toasted Sesame Oil
- Lemon Pepper
- Real Salt
- Garlic Powder
- Add 6 cups of water and approx. a 1/2 tbsp. salt to the large pot and turn on high heat until it boils.
- Add pasta to boiling water and cook per instructions on package (probably 7 to 10 minutes) strain pasta into a colander and set aside.
- Combine mayonnaise with lemon juice, wasabi and seasonings.
- Chop avocados, cucumbers and green onions.
- Combine pasta and the mayonnaise mixture together in a large bowl. Add chopped vegetables right before you serve the salad. Keep this salad refrigerated until just prior to serving. You may refrigerate it overnight to help the flavors incorporate.
- Heat the toasted sesame oil in a large frying pan or deep fryer on medium high heat.
- Thaw and clean shrimp by removing the intestinal track and then rinsing the shrimp under the faucet. Place on a large plate or a clean, flat surface.
- Lightly sprinkle lemon pepper, garlic powder and salt on both sides of the shrimp.
- Add panko crumbs and about 1 tsp. of salt to a shallow bowl and mix thoroughly. (Taste the crumbs to ensure the salt level is adequate).
- Lightly beat the eggs in a small bowl.
- Dip the shrimp into the egg mixture, then coat completely with panko crumbs and place into the hot oil. Turn the shrimp over after approximately 3 minutes. Because the panko is gluten-free be aware the coating does not stick like ordinary panko.
- Once shrimp is cooked remove from the hot oil and place onto a clean, large plate covered with a paper towel. Repeat until all the shrimp are fried. Allow to cool slightly.
- Cut the shrimp into ⅓ inch, bite sized pieces.
- Remove the pasta from the refrigerator and add the warm shrimp, avocados and cucumber stirring to evenly incorporate the ingredients. Garnish with the green onions and nori flakes if desired. Serve.