Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad Tofino Style

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As many of you will remember I spent some time on Vancouver Island in the summer of 2013. One of the places that we experienced, while on the island, was Tofino, British Columbia. This place is often referred to as the very west end of Canada.

Tofino had long been on my dream list of places to see. It is known for its rugged beaches, often filled with surfers catching waves. You can wander out on the sandy beaches feeling the energy of the ocean as it crashes against the shore. Travelers make their way to this rugged seaside town to watch the storms come in from the Pacific. There is a wild and remote feeling about Tofino, possibly because the road is long and winding and mountainous to get there, also because the coastline is relatively unspoiled.

Watermelon-and-Shrimp

Once you are there you can see a few well placed luxury inns on the beach but that is not the heart of Tofino. The heart of Tofino, to me, is the local food culture which is anything but fine dining. It is all about the Pacific style of using fresh and local ingredients to create amazing flavours. Food trucks are found in unusual spots and a few have made a name for themselves as the best places to east in this part of Vancouver Island.

One restaurant called the SoBo started as a food truck and has now become a restaurant in downtown Tofino. It has earned some very high praise from critics and travelers alike. The best news is that the owners have published a cookbook with a sampling of some wonderful recipes from their menus. The book is full of mouth-watering dishes with chapters featuring ideas for you next meal of breakfast, salad, sandwiches, burgers, tacos, appetizers and snacks, mains, sides, and desserts.

The book is nothing short of beautiful. Not only does it include vibrant shots of the food, it also includes some fabulous landscape and seascape photographs by Jeremy Koreski, a local photographer. It also features a foreword written by Sarah McLachlan, the wonderfully talented Canadian recording artist who has spent a fair bit of time experiencing the mysteries of Tofino.

I chose to feature this recipe from the book because grilling watermelon intrigued me. I was not sure if it would like the taste of warm grilled watermelon with grilled shrimp but I am pleased to tell you that it was a taste experience that I hope to repeat again and again. It was a perfect flavour combination and the result was a light and sumptuous salad.

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Grilled Watermelon and Shrimp Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 small watermelon cut into 1 inch thick wheels, skin removed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp. olive oil for grilling
1 cucumber, sliced to 1/4 inch rounds and refrigerate to keep cold
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tsp. salt
12-20 large shrimp or prawns, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds toasted

Directions:

Preheat BBQ or grill pan to high.

Brush the watermelon lightly with olive oil to prevent sticking. Lay the slices directly on the grill racks and grill for 2 to 3 minutes. The slices should be easily lifted from the grill. Turn them over and grill on the other side for 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly salt then remove them from the grill and cut into 1 inch sized chunks.

In a large bowl gently toss the warm watermelon with the cold cucumber, mint, lime juice and salt and the 1/4 cup olive oil.
Lightly brush the shrimp with olive oil and grill for 30 seconds per side or until they turn pink or red. Divide the salad between 4 serving plates, top with the shrimp and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Recipe from the Sobo Cookbook by Lisa Ahier with Andrew Morrison

I bought mine here:

http://www.amazon.ca/Lisa-Ahier-Cookbook-Restaurant-Canadian/dp/B00IBP7PCM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407805714&sr=8-2&keywords=the+sobo+cookbook

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Shrimp and Pineapple Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

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Spring is coming!

At this time of year I start to look forward to spring. I have had my fill of snow, slush, freezing rain and cold.

One way that I get myself geared up is to start planning some spring activities that will get me out of the apartment and feeling good. I stopped in ay my local running store and got fitted for a pair of shoes. Rather than staring at them and wishing for sunny days I have started climbing the stairs at my office building. I work on the 10th floor so this is a good start to my fitness plan. The next challenge will be to climb the 23 floors to my apartment. Hopefully, by the time I am ready for that challenge, the spring weather will be here.

The Toronto Bike Show is on this weekend and I have been dreaming of a new bicycle all winter. I plan to go and check out the different hybrid bikes that are discounted as last year’s models. Those of you who know about my current bike, Victoria, will be surprised that I am even thinking of an upgrade. Victoria is a lovely bike, after all. I almost feel as though I am cheating on her by looking at newer models.

I am also trading in my beautiful car, Grace. I named her after the late Princess Grace because she is Monaco Blue, sophisticated and elegant. My lease is up and I have decided that instead of sporty elegance I really need a car that I can haul stuff around in. Practicality is winning over, this time.

Spring is time for new beginnings. For me that will mean a new car, possibly a new bicycle and hopefully a fresh attitude.

Another way to get ready for spring is to eat lighter meals. Many of my friends and family escaped winter by heading for tropical destinations so I thought it would be fun to feature a tropical recipe that creates that island feeling. I found this one in a Fine Cooking Cook Fresh magazine. Not only is it light and healthy, it looks so inviting on the plate.

 

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Shrimp and Pineapple Stir-Fry with Coconut Rice

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/3 cups jasmine rice
3/4 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup golden rum
1/3 fresh lime juice
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 1/2 inch thick rounds of peeled and cored pineapple cut into 8 wedges
1/3 cup fresh mint, coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt

Directions

In a microwave safe 8-10 cup bowl, combine the rice, coconut milk, and 3/4 tsp. salt with 2 cups water. Microwave on high, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Let stand in the microwave until the water is absorbed, 5-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the rum, lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper until the cornstarch dissolves.

Pat the shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until partially cooked, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and continue to stir-fry until heated through. Whisk the sauce, add to the skillet, and stir until the shrimp are just opaque in the centre and coated with the sauce.

Stir in the mint and remove from heat. Serve on top of a bed of rice.

Recipe from Fine Cooking Cook Fresh-Winter 2014 Magazine

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