Seafood Week: Stacking Up

Our final installment in a week focusing on seafood is really more about presentation than the particulars of what goes into this dish. After all, everything in this recipe could be tossed into a bowl and enjoyed just as much. Although I'll be honest - my family is much more impressed when I put a plate that looks like this in front of them at the dinner table:

What's not to love? Slightly spicy shrimp paired with creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber, seasoned rice, and nutty sesame seeds come together in a layered meal that looks simply glamorous on a plate. That is especially true when you serve it surrounded by edible leaves and flowers. I chose nasturtiums, but not only because they are showy and come in stunning colors. They also happen to be on the spicy side and that's just what I'm looking for when assembling a sushi stack. In fact, I like putting out little bowls of wasabi and bottles of soy sauce when serving these so everyone can add what they want at the table. You might wish to add pickled ginger as well. I leave it out as my family doesn't enjoy it.

This is a lovely light lunch or dinner dish. In keeping with that, I tend to keep the accompaniments light as well. Steamed, salted edamame is always a treat. Sliced watermelon or cucumbers give you a refreshing side to counter some of the heat that can linger in the shrimp. If you are looking for more salt and crunch, I'd recommend wasabi peas or some other simple Asian snack. And I do enjoy pouring a cold pale beer, cider, or chilled white wine to enjoy alongside this meal. Then, I like to take all the time that I've saved in the preparation of this dish and sit back to enjoy a luxurious dinner. After all, you've just finished a week of wonderful seafood ideas that have had you searing tuna, grilling salmon, and stacking shrimp. Well done!

Shrimp Sushi Stacks

  • 3 oz. raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • Salt & cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. cooking fat of your choice (I used sesame oil)
  • 2-3 T. diced cucumber
  • 1/2 avocado, pit and skin removed
  • 1 tsp. rice vinegar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. soy sauce (use tamari sauce for a gluten free option)
  • 1/4 c. cold short-grained rice (this is a great use for leftover rice)
  • 1/4 tsp. black sesame seeds

Combine the shrimp in a small bowl with the granulated garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper. Toss well to evenly coat the shrimp. Heat the cooking fat of your choice in a small nonstick skillet and sauté the shrimp gently over medium-high heat until they are cooked through. Chop the shrimp into small pieces and set aside.

Spray a 1 cup measuring cup (ideally stainless steel with straight sides) with cooking spray. Sprinkle the diced cucumber evenly in the bottom of the cup. Set aside.

Mix the avocado flesh and 1/2 teaspoon of the rice vinegar until a slightly chunky paste forms. Press the avocado paste over the diced cucumber in the measuring cup. Set aside.

Toss the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of the rice vinegar and soy or tamari sauce with the cold rice and press that mixture into the measuring cup. At this point, you could refrigerate the measuring cup for up to an hour before serving. Beware of letting it chill longer, as the avocado will eventually discolor and detract from the final presentation.

When you are ready to serve, carefully unmold the ingredients in the measuring cup. You may need to run a knife along the edge of the cup to get them to slide out onto a plate. Sprinkle the top of the stack with sesame seeds, garnish as desired (I used nasturtium leaves and flowers), and serve with soy sauce (or tamari sauce) and wasabi, if desired.

  • Yields: 1 stack, easily multiplied
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes