Thursday, July 02, 2009

Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad Recipe with Mint, Lemon, and Cumin (Low-Carb, Paleo, Gluten-Free)

Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Lemon, and Cumin, perfect for a summer party.

Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Lemon, and Cumin found on

This week there are big holidays for people who live in Canada or the U.S., and in my family a summer holiday celebration usually includes shrimp and macaroni salad. I'm not sure if I'll be making that one this year, but I'm guessing my shrimp-salad-loving dad would like this Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Lemon, and Cumin, adapted from a recipe by Ellie Krieger.

Truthfully, I'd never paid much attention to Ellie until my friend Lydia gave me The Food You Crave for a retirement present, but I'm enjoying the book, and finding that Ellie and I have some things in common when it comes to cooking style. I rarely make recipes exactly the way they're written, and I added a bit of cumin and Sriracha sauce for a slightly-spicy twist on Ellie's salad. I'm looking forward to trying some more recipes from the book soon. (Thanks Lydia!)

I do think shrimp and cucumber with mint is a lovely idea, and mint is so easy to grow that it's always plentiful. This salad with the minty dressing is perfect for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Laurie from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska. WHB is now managed by the multi-talented Haalo, and if you're cooking with herbs, check who's hosting and join in the fun.

Ellie has a bigger food budget than I do, so I only used one pound of frozen shrimp, which I thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Then I cooked the shrimp in boiling water, seasoned with a bit of hot pepper flakes.

After exactly 3 minutes, drain shrimp quickly, plunge into ice water, then pour the shrimp into a colander placed in the sink and let them drain well while you prep other ingredients.

I used mini-cucumbers which have soft skins, so I kept the skins on. Chop enough cucumbers to make 2 cups chopped cucumber.

After the shrimp have drained well, peel the shells off with your fingers. Be sure to get all the pieces of shell; they should pull off easily.

Whisk together the dressing of lemon juice, cumin, vege-sal or salt, black pepper, Sriracha sauce and olive oil, then stir in coarsely chopped mint leaves, and mix into cucumber-shrimp combo. This can be served right away or chilled for a few hours in the fridge.

Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Salad with Mint, Lemon, and Cumin
(Makes about 4 servings, recipe adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger.)

1 lb. shrimp in the shell (frozen shrimp are fine; I used 36-40 per pound size shrimp)
1 tsp. fish rub (optional, to season water when cooking shrimp)
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes (optional, to season water when cooking shrimp)
2 cup diced cucumber (about 3 mini cucumbers)
1/2 cup packed mint leaves
3 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 - 1 tsp. ground cumin (try half teaspoon, then taste to see if you want more)
1/4-1/2 tsp. Sriracha sauce (or use your favorite hot sauce, add to taste)
1/2 tsp. Vege-Sal (use a little less if using regular salt)
several grinds black pepper
3 T extra virgin olive oil

If using frozen shrimp, thaw overnight, then drain. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil, stir in fish rub and hot pepper flakes if using, then add shrimp and let boil exactly 3 minutes (use a timer.) After 3 minutes, drain shrimp quickly, plunge into a bowl of ice water, then pour into a colander placed in the sink and let the shrimp drain well while you prep other ingredients.

Cut end off cucumbers and peel if the skin is thick. (If there are very many seeds, I would scrape out the seeds with a spoon before I diced the cucumbers.) Dice cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces and place in medium-sized salad bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, cumin, Sriracha sauce, Vege-sal or salt, and black pepper. Then whisk in olive oil. (Start with smaller amount of cumin and Sriracha and add to taste.) Coarsely chop mint using a chef's knife and stir into dressing. (Next time I make this, I'd chop the mint in larger pieces than is shown in these photos, but chop it as big or small as you prefer.)

Check shrimp to be sure they have drained well enough to be quite dry, and pat dry with paper towels if needed. Pull off shells, including pulling off tail section, and put each shelled shrimp into salad bowl with the cucumbers as you peel it. When all shrimp are peeled and gently combined with cucumbers, stir in lemon-mint dressing, taste to see if you want to add a bit more salt, ground black pepper, or Sriracha (that would be Lydia, adding more Sriracha.)

The salad can be served immediately but it's best when chilled for a few hours before serving. This will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

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South Beach Suggestions:
Every ingredient in this salad is a low-glycemic choice, so this is a great option for any phase of the South Beach Diet and it's great for other low-carb diets too, even Paleo. I think this would taste great in lettuce cups with some Spicy Guacamole if you wanted a more substantial meal.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight using The Glycemic Index partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Versions of Shrimp Salad for Summer Holiday Parties:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Mediterranean Shrimp Salad from The Leftover Queen

Shrimp and Macaroni Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen

Caesar Salad with Shrimp from The Perfect Pantry

Shrimp, Avocado, and Red Pepper Salad from Kalyn's Kitchen

Quinoa Salad with Shrimp and Asparagus from House of Annie

Asian Spinach Salad with Shrimp, Red Pepper, and Mushrooms from Kalyn's Kitchen

Shrimp Salad Recipes from Kitchen Parade

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

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  1. My biggest problem with Ellie's recipes is that they often lack seasoning. The idea is there and like you I would just spice it up a bit!

  2. I really needed that reminder to make your shrimp and macaroni salad. Hmmm when is the next time we're having dinner with our friends...

  3. Joanne, that's my impression too after looking through the book, but I do like a lot of her ideas.

    Sassymonkey, that shrimp and macaroni salad is my family's all time fave, so fun that you like it too!

  4. What a great combination, Kalyn! I have so much mint in my garden and cucumbers are just coming up. I can't wait to try this!

  5. This looks like a nice healthy holiday dish!

    I actually totally had a craving for sort of greek inspired cucumber, tomato and shrimp salad last night. But alas when I got to the store no more shrimps! I guess they had all sold out because of canada day.

  6. As soon as I saw the photo of this, I knew I had to make it! I agree with you and Joanne about the lack of seasoning in Ellie's recipes. Her recipes on the Food Network website often get a low rating because of this. But you're right, Kalyn, she's got some really good ideas. Like this one!

  7. I've never tried one of Ellie's recipes, but you have seriously tempted me. I really like shrimp in salads and would probably cook them in some Old Bay Seasoning, a favorite on this coast.

  8. Sarah, you could use even more mint if you're having a surplus of it!

    Katerina, so sad, no shrimp. You need Costco!

    Cookin' Canuck, I don't mean to bash Ellie because I think she's very talented, but I'm one of those people who like highly seasoned foods!

    Andrea, I would have used Old Bay but I didn't have any (and I was very frustrated, because I used to have it but couldn't find any.)

  9. Kalyn, if you want some Old Bay just say the word and I'll stock you up! :-)

  10. Thanks Andrea! I think I can buy it here, just couldn't figure out why I didn't have any.

  11. This looks so good that I just might make it this weekend.

  12. I agree completely about this book -- I like it more than I thought I would, but the recipes often lack both salt and pepper (heat). Sriracha is a perfect addition to this recipe; I'm going to try it. And I'm so glad you're enjoying the book!

  13. This is just the kind of food I love in the summertime. It's so healthy and refreshing, and your pic is gorgeous!

  14. Nice information provide by you.
    You are doing very well job! keep it up.

  15. Kalyn that does look tasty. I'm always looking for ways to use up my mint, and I always have shrimp in the freezer.

  16. spicy shrimp and mint is for sure a great combo. I love the photo!

  17. Yum! I love mint in salads

  18. A perfect dress for the shrimps and cucumber. I love adding cumin for that little nutty and peppery flavor.

  19. Cooking for a vegetarian, I substituted the shrimp with black beans and it was fantastic. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  20. I do love the idea of using black beans in this for a vegetarian version!

  21. Kalyn I love your blot and your pinterest page; especially for South Beach recipes. My husband isn't a big fan of mint; what other herbs would make a tasty substitution?

  22. Thanks Nina! I think chopped cilantro or simply thinly sliced green onions would be good with the other flavors in this.


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