My first try was just an assemblage of lettuce, tomatoes and shrimp with mayonnaise dressing all dusted with some salt, fresh ground black pepper and a sprinkle of paprika. It was good and the bowl was quickly emptied. But I knew it was missing something, it needed something more. But what……
I didn’t want a vinaigrette-style dressing. I wanted a smoother dressing, like the mayonnaise but with a bit more flavor. I had considered 1000 Island but I didn’t want a dressing that would overpower the shrimp, which is really a very mild flavor. So I made an almost 1000 Island, I mixed equal amounts of mayonnaise and 1000 Island dressing. I had more flavor, some added color but the flavor of the shrimp still came through.
My next addition to the salad recipe was cucumber slices and chopped hard-boiled egg. I liked the cucumber and it stayed. I liked the egg but didn’t like the little bits of chopped egg. I next sliced the egg, discarded the white slices without any yolk showing. I liked the larger pieces, the round slices of the hard-boiled egg, while eating the salad and I liked the look of the salad’s presentation with the circle of egg slices.
That is pretty much how the salad recipe has stayed all these years. Once I did add some croutons. True to my finicky nature, I sometime liked them and sometime not (perhaps because the croutons got mushy when there was left over salad). So, if I’m going to include croutons with the salad, I serve them on the side. The diners can add them if they wish. Although the recipe has remained unchanged, that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some substitutions at times. *In the fifties and sixties about the only source of cocktail shrimp in our local area was in cans. Canned shrimp was and is expensive. If you are lucky enough to have a seafood counter in your local supermarket, cocktail shrimp on ice is about half the cost of the canned shrimp and is a perfect substitution. Crab meat, real or pollock surimi, replacing all or part of the shrimp, makes a wonderful crab or seafood salad. I hope you enjoy this shrimp salad as much as I have over these many years.