Exotic Crayfish Salad With Vanilla Dressing
Vanilla bean seeds are mixed with oil and lemon juice to create the dressing for this lovely fruit salad, which is topped with crayfish sauteed with spicy seasoning and more vanilla bean. Shrimp may be substituted for crayfish.
- Corn Oil - 3/4 cup
- Vanilla Beans - 2 whole
- Fresh lemon juice - 1/4 cup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Ripe Papayas - 1
- Ripe Mango - 1
- Crayfish - 12, large (alt. colossal or jumbo shrimp)
- Cajun or Creole seasoning mix (optional)
- Olive Oil - 1 tablespoon
- Mesclun - 6 cups (alt. gourmet mixed salad greens)
If time permits, infuse oil by placing one vanilla bean in corn oil; cover and let stand 3 days or up to 3 weeks. If desired, dry a second vanilla bean and grind to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder.
Split open one vanilla bean (or use the drained bean from the infused oil) and scrape the pulp into the corn oil; reserve split bean. Combine the oil and lemon juice in a small bowl. Season the vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.
Peel papayas and mango. Dice one third of each fruit; stir into dressing. Cut remaining fruit lengthwise into thin slices.
If using crayfish, separate head portion from tails. If desired, boil head portion until bright red and reserve for plate garnish. Cut crayfish tails (or shrimp) in half lengthwise; remove from shell and discard vein. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper or with Cajun seasoning, if desired. Sprinkle with ground vanilla bean, if desired. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet; add reserved vanilla bean. Saute crayfish or shrimp until golden brown and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
To serve: Toss salad greens with 1/2 cup of the dressing; arrange in center of six serving plates. With a slotted spoon, drain and arrange the marinated diced fruit around salad. Arrange 4 pieces of crawfish and sliced fruit attractively over greens. Garnish plate with crayfish heads, if desired.