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Chilled Poached Shrimp with Watermelon and Pickled Blackberry Dressing

Fans of extra spice can slice 1⁄2 of 1 Fresno or jalapeño chile and put it in the poaching liquid to add subtle heat.

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Chilled poached shrimp  with watermelon and  pickled blackberry dressing
Jennifer Olson


  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 3 cloves garlic (2 crushed, 1 minced)
  • 2 shallots (1 minced, 1 cut into chunks)
  • 2-inch-piece fresh ginger root, peeled (grate 1/2 tsp; thinly slice the remainder)
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar, divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1lb raw jumbo shrimp (approximately 16-20), peeled and deveined, tails optional
  • 2 tbsp safflower oil
  • 1 tbsp blue agave nectar (or preferred natural sweetener)
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 12oz watermelon, cut in 4 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 romaine hearts, thinly sliced crosswise (4 cups)


Halve one stalk lemongrass and lightly crush both halves with the side of a chef’s knife. In a medium saucepan, combine crushed lemongrass, crushed garlic cloves, shallot chunks, ginger slices, 3 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low, and simmer, 30 minutes. 

With a slotted spoon, remove lemongrass, garlic, shallot, and ginger, and discard. Poach shrimp in rice vinegar mixture until cooked through and bright pink, 1–2 minutes. Drain shrimp and refrigerate until chilled. 

Finely mince the tender inner part of the second lemongrass stalk, about 1 tbsp. In a heat- safe bowl, combine minced lemongrass, minced garlic, 1 tbsp minced shallot (refrigerate any remaining shallot for future use), grated ginger, and remaining 1⁄4 tsp salt. 

In a small sauté pan over low heat, heat oil until shimmering, 40–60 seconds. Remove from heat; carefully pour over minced lemongrass mixture. Stir to blend; let cool. 

In a small saucepan, bring remaining 3 tbsp rice vinegar and agave nectar to a boil. Add blackberries and stir to coat. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring, until blackberries are softened, 10 minutes. 

Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook until liquid has thickened slightly (enough to coat the back of the spoon), about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool, 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tbsp lemongrass-oil mixture.

Brush each slice of watermelon with 1⁄2 tsp lemongrass-oil mixture and divide among 4 plates. 

Toss romaine with 2 tsp lemongrass-oil mixture and divide over watermelon. 

Divide shrimp among salads and drizzle with blackberry dressing.

See also Caponata Bruschetta

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 208
  • Carbohydrate Content 16 g
  • Fat Content 8 g
  • Fiber Content 2 g
  • Protein Content 17 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Sodium Content 825 mg