Shrimp and Strawberry? Do you think I sound crazy right now? Trust, young padawans, and learn the ways of combining sweet and savory. Rice noodles, pickled veg (and mango!), basil, mint, scallions, shrimp, and strawberries are combined in a rice wrapper for the ultimate summer freshness. Served with a delicious peanut sauce for dipping - get in my face!
I had seen a blog photo ages ago that I loved on this site, but I was scared to try it because I had never made summer rolls before and it seemed finicky. Then I was over at a friend's house for dinner and that is what we made! It was a bit tricky, but not as scary as I had imagined. She was a pro, so I asked her to help me make my shrimp and strawberry rolls. Then I looked at the recipe for the photo I loved, and wasn't a big fan of the ingredients. I wanted noodles instead of cabbage, and mango instead of bell pepper. So I switched some things around.
Then we got to work! She was skeptical of my flavor combo, but ended up loving it. You can see the progression here from back to front where I put the ingredients on in the wrong order so the pretty parts didn't show, then exploded one, then finally got some decent rolls. The good news is - it doesn't matter if you don't get the best looking rolls, they still taste amazing!
Kanikama is the imitation crab meat you find in cheap sushi rolls. It is made from white fish (pollock usually) that is formed and colored to look like crab. Sounds gross, but is actually pretty tasty - and way cheaper than real crab. Kanikama salad is a pretty typical way to prepare imitation crab outside of sushi rolls. It usually involves kanikama, shredded vegetables, and mango in a light mayonnaise based dressing and is sometimes topped with tobiko.
My version is kanikama and mango over lettuce, served with avocado (I meant to get tobiko, too, but I forgot!) This is really light and refreshing, and a little bit sweet - perfect for summer. It's important to realize that Japanese mayo is different from American - it is lighter, thinner, and made with rice wine vinegar. For my dressing, I bought Yum Yum sauce thinking it would be good as is (it's a mayonnaise based sauce that they use at Hibachi grill restaurants). But when I tried it out, it was a bit too sweet and bland. So I added a splash each of rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, mirin, and toasted sesame oil (easy on that last one, it is very strong).
I don't really have a recipe - it's more of a play with seasonings til you like it kind of thing. You could add in julienned carrots, cucumber, even summer squash. You could dice the avocado and fold it in with the mango (which I did on subsequent days). You could toss the lettuce in the dressing as well, instead of setting the dressed kanikama on top. There are lots of ways that you can make this your own. Leave a comment telling me how you like your kanikama salad!