Tiny shrimp are great if you are looking for healthy lunch ideas for work. They can be used so many ways; deep fried, tossed with pasta, or thrown into a shrimp salad recipe.
The thing I love about this Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad recipe is the versatility (no surprise there! This is usually the thing I love most about recipes besides their flavor.) I make a batch and keep it in the fridge, so if one day I want to make salad wraps, I can. Or maybe on another day, I am in the mood for a tasty salad bowl. I’ve even had this southwestern tiny shrimp salad on tartines made out of herbed crusty bread.
There is no shortage of healthy lunch ideas with this recipe. If you need a bento box lunch, Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad works for this, too! Just drop the shrimp salad in one bento, the lettuce in another, followed by the mayo for spreading or topping, then the sriracha, you get the idea.
How I Met Tiny Shrimp:
My love for tiny shrimp began way back in upstate New York when I lived in Harriman for a bit.
The surrounding area up there provided no shortage of great places to eat. The Bear Mountain Inn had a restaurant overlooking the rugged landscape, and eating there was usually followed by a visit to the car show during the summer months.
Not terribly far away in the other direction was Sugarloaf – seriously the coolest little town of it’s time. Since I worked in restaurants and my days off were usually during the week, I could browse the shops there without all the hustle and bustle the weekend crowds brought in. I always made a stop at the Sugarloaf TapHouse for lunch every time I was in the area – the rustic atmosphere and awesome food can’t be beat. (I’d be lying if I said the deer antler chandeliers and rooster artwork didn’t remind me of home…)
But… some of the best food in the area could be found at at The Captain’s Table just up the road a piece from where I was living at the time. It was here that I had buffalo popcorn shrimp for the first time – and I have never forgotten the experience! The tiny shrimp were seasoned, deep fried, and coated in buffalo sauce (I ordered mine extra spicy) with a side of chunky blue cheese dressing for dipping, celery stalks if you needed to cool your palate between sizzling bites of spicy tiny shrimp, and a little fork in case you had fat fingers.
The Captain’s Table was one of the first places I know of that served tiny shrimp this way. (Ok, ok…. this was almost 25 years ago, folks!) I’d hang out there once every month or so just to get those yummy popcorn shrimp. The live music, outdoor seating, and full menu were nice bonuses too, of course!
The Inspiration Behind Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad:
I can never turn down anything spicy, and since summer here this year has been a bit hotter than usual, I thought I would take the sentiment of spicy tiny shrimp and make a cold salad out of them. If you don’t care for spicy food – just leave the sriracha off the recipe, but I can’t tell you enough how it really enhances the taco salad inspired flavors of this recipe. You can add as much or as little as you want, ya know!
As for that sunny golden color – you can thank the turmeric powder for it. Turmeric is super healthy and lends a mild depth of flavor, so… of course I had to throw it in!
If you are worried about buying canned shrimp from the grocery store, I hear ya! You deserve to know where your tiny shrimp comes from and how it was harvested. Here is a good option to check out:
My favorite way to eat Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad is in a wrap. Not sure how to roll one? I didn’t for a long time, either. Every time I tried, I’d end up with a mess later in the day.
The problem was that I was overstuffing the wrap – and this is easy to do. Nobody wants to skimp on what is inside! Remember this: if you can’t fold over the edges of the wrap at least an inch on top of the salad, you won’t be able to seal the wraps and they will end up falling apart either before you eat them or as you are eating them.
I finally got the process down. I can now get these shrimp salad wraps rolled up lickety-split, and with a little practice, you can, too.
Here, let me show you how easy it is:
Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad makes a great side dish, too. Plate it alongside traditional burgers in place of potato salad. Heap it next to a grilled steak for some surf-n-turf. Top a seafood taco with it.
Or, just eat it plain, right out of a bowl…
…and don’t forget to drizzle that sriracha on top!
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Southwestern Tiny Shrimp Salad
- 12 oz canned tiny shrimp drained
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 small carrot finely diced
- 2 yellow baby bell peppers seeded and diced
- ¼ cup mayonnaise, plus 6 tbsp divided
- 1 tbsp taco sauce
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp celery salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 whole wheat tortilla wraps 8-inch size
- ¾ cup chopped iceberg lettuce
- sriracha for serving
- Toss the shrimp, celery, carrot, and bell peppers together in a medium bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk ¼ cup mayonnaise, taco sauce, fish sauce, lemon juice, turmeric and celery salt together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the sauce over the shrimp and vegetables. Gently mix together using a rubber spatula until all of the shrimp and veggies are well coated with the sauce. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week.)
- To make the wraps, spread each wrap with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, staying one inch from the edges. Arrange about 2 tablespoons of the chopped lettuce in a line along the third of the wrap that is closest to you, staying an inch away from the edges. Top the lettuce with 1/3 cup of the shrimp salad, followed by a drizzle of sriracha.
- Carefully fold in the vertical sides of the wrap inward about an inch over the salad and gently press down to get them to stick to the salad. Fold the edge closest to you over the salad, tucking the edge beneath the salad. Roll the wrap, staring with the side closest to you and working away form you until the salad is fully enclosed in the wrap.
- Package each wrap separately in waxed paper and chill (or place in a lunchbox with an ice pack) until ready to eat.