Congaree Rice Croutons, GYO Pea Shoots, Basil Seed Vinaigrette
BY CHEF MIKE RAMSEY, Executive Chef at Jacksonville Golf and Country Club
1 pound Mayport shrimp, peeled (you should have 26-30 per pound)
1 seedless watermelon, peeled and cut into 1’ slices
Jupiter Rice Croutons (see recipe)
Mayhaw Pickling Brine (see recipe)
Basil Seed Vinaigrette (see recipe)
1 cup pea shoots (baby arugula is a good alternative)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
For the Mayhaw Pickling Brine:
½ cup Congaree & Penn Mayhaw Shrub
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp celery seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, minced
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour off half of the brine and reserve to toss with cooked shrimp. Add the peeled shrimp to the bowl and let marinade for only 30 minutes. If it sits too long, the shrimp will cook in the brine and be mushy after grilling.
For the Jupiter Rice Croutons:
1 cup Congaree & Penn White Jupiter Rice (unrinsed)
2 cups water
1 Tbsp salt
½ cup Congaree & Penn Fine Ground Rice Flour (AP Flour can be substituted if GF is not necessary.)
In a heavy bottomed pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add the rice, return to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook for twenty minutes covered. When the rice is finished cooking, pour it into a greased 9in. square baking pan and smooth out the top. Place rice in the refrigerator to cool. This step can be done the night before. After the rice is cool, turn out the molded rice onto a cutting board and carefully cut into 1in. squares. Keep aside until ready to serve.
For the Basil Seed Vinaigrette: (This recipe can be altered with many combinations of herbs and citrus.)
1 cup basil leaves, packed
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 cup rice wine vinegar
1½ cups olive oil
2 Tbsp basil seeds
Combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil and basil seeds in a blender. Begin to blend on low and gradually work your way up to high speed, then slowly add the olive oil and blend until mix is smooth. Stir in the basil seeds and keep in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To assemble the salad:
Fire up your grill. Grates should be hot where you are grilling, and you should be able to hold the palm of your hand 6 inches above them for no longer than 3 or 4 seconds. If you are using charcoal, make sure you are timing everything right.
Pat the watermelon slices dry with a paper towel and brush with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wipe down the clean, hot grates with oil, and then carefully lay two slices of watermelon on the grill. You will most certainly have extra slices of watermelon, so don’t be afraid to experiment with how long to wait before you flip it. The most important thing is to get a good char on the slices. Don’t concern yourself with rotating it to get nice marks; you will be dicing it anyway. After two minutes on one side, flip the slices over and repeat. Try to flip it on to a fresh spot on the grill for the best char. Transfer slices to a plate to let them rest. Juice will begin to pool on the plate, but don’t discard it. Dice the watermelon slices into 1in. cubes and return them to the juice. Drizzle with olive oil.
Warm a sauté pan with olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Dust the rice croutons in the rice flour and place them in the pan. Turn them on their sides as they begin to brown. Remove to a plate with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.
Remove the shrimp from the brine and allow excess brine to drip off. Prepare a clean bowl with the reserved brine from earlier and discard the brine used for marinade. When you are ready to serve, set up your plates. Using a spoon, drizzle a bit of the basil seed in the middle and around the outside of the plate. Playfully arrange about 4 or 5 rice croutons and roughly the same amount of grilled watermelon. When the plates are set up, grill the shrimp. Because of the olive oil in the brine, the shrimp could cause a flare up, so be careful not to pile them all together. The shrimp will cook quickly, so stand by and remove them to the bowl of reserved pickling brine as they finish. Give them a toss to coat. Arrange about 6 shrimp on each plate around the croutons and the watermelon. Place the pea shoots in random piles and finish with another drizzle of the basil dressing and freshly cracked pepper.