Seafood Salads

Shrimp Salad Rolls New England Style
Squid Salad & Octopus Salad

Shrimp Salad Rolls New England Style
Fresh seafood was always plentiful in Boston.  Incredibly delicious shrimp rolls were common menu items even in small neighborhood restaurants.  They were typically served in soft rolls split on top like hot dog buns.

Unfortunately, most shrimp purchased today are farm raised, often imported from places like India, Indonesia, and Thailand.  Many published articles raise questions about their safety, potential contamination in overcrowded farms, engineered and processed feed sources, excess use of antibiotics and potential environmental damages. 

Although convenient, I find farm raised and precooked shrimp for cocktail or shrimp salad flavorless and usually overcooked.  If these shrimps were rich in taste, I expect no one would balance large globs of catsup based cocktail sauce on them to disguise and overpower them. 

Wild caught shrimp are naturally delicious.  Some are available partially cleaned and deveined.  If purchased with shells, cleaning 2 pounds of shrimp only takes about 15 minutes.  Shrimp are quick boiled less than a minute in water with a pinch of Kosher salt and Old Bay Seasoning; amazingly delicious warm right out of the pot.
The wild shrimps are readily available.  Those pictured below were purchased on sale at my local Fresh Market for $9.99 per pound; 21 to 25 shrimps per pound.
My favorite rolls are Brioche Hot Dog buns (also available at Fresh Market).  They are tender and subtle and won’t distract from the shrimp salad.   Also Be sure to use high quality mayonnaise.

Ingredients will make about 10 shrimp rolls filled high for brunch, picnic, or luncheon.  These were served at a surprise birthday luncheon along with my “Chicken Corn Chowder with Roasted Vegetable Puree, Squash, Sweet Potato and Carrot” under “Soups and Stews” tab.             
  • 2 ¼ lbs. cleaned shrimp (wild American 21-25 per pound perfect size to cut in thirds work as well)
  • 1-quart water
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 generous cup quality mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 4 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat parsley
10 Brioche Hot Dog buns or similar soft rolls

Remove shells and devein shrimp (if not already cleaned). 

Place about a quart of water in a pot with Kosher salt and Old Bay seasoning.  Once briskly boiling add shrimp and stir.  Shrimp will be ready in as little as 30 seconds to under a minute (taste test).  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel.  When cool enough to handle cut in thirds.

Add and mix all dressing ingredients.  Test for seasoning by dipping and eating a shrimp.  Incorporate shrimp.  Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Generously filling rolls using surgical gloves and tablespoon.  You can finish with a light sprinkle Old Bay Seasoning.     
Squid (Calamari) Salad and Octopus (Polipo) Salad
Octopus (Polipo) Salad
Cleaned Baby Octopus (approx 1 Lb.)

Living by Boston's waterfront, we always had access to the freshest seafood.  We were within walking distance of the docks where fishing boats loaded their catch into a large processing warehouse.  Fish were hand cleaned, fileted and sorted.  Most were destined for distribution to restaurants and markets.  Limited days and times were opened to the public.  

Locally at the corner of Salem and Cross Streets was Giuffre's Fish Market.  It was a well-known Boston treasure featuring a huge selection of the freshest seafood anywhere.  Everything from live lobsters to recently caught cod, halibut and flounder were available daily.  They even had a stainless steel vat designed specifically to house live snails.

Squid was almost a throw away species, often used for bait.  Being Italian, we knew how special they were.  Competition kept prices low but once the general population was exposed to fried calamari and other squid specialties, prices skyrocketed.  The availability of squid already cleaned also increased demand and costs. 

Baby octopus was available in the North End but seldom seen in traditional grocery store chains outside.  Today's pricing also suggests demand is still limited.  My local gourmet grocery store sold the pound of baby octopus in the picture below for almost half the price of the squid they displayed.

Squid and octopu's salads were almost always in our refrigerator, available for lunch, snacks, or even as a main course with hunks of artesian bread.  

Please make this dish a day ahead.  Sitting overnight, garlic mellows and flavors merge.  Don't get me wrong, it's terrific when first made but even better with time.  You can also add a little more lemon and can adjust salt.  Serve with a spoon.  Every mouthful is best with an ample puddle of dressing.         

Squid submerged in boiling water cooks quickly.  Smaller 3" to 5" squid tubes cut into rings takes about a minute, larger and thicker, perhaps a minute and a half.  If steaming, about 3 minutes for smaller tubes.  Squid is cooked when rings just begin to firm.  Anything more, they will become tough and rubbery.  

Although octopus is thicker, they seem to cook even quicker before becoming tougher.  Some use a dipping technique, plunging raw octopus in and out of a pan of boiling water to ensure they don't overcook.         

Our family resisted any temptations to make this dish into a mixed seafood salad or incorporate any number of added ingredients.  Why mess with anything this good and there are many other terrific recipes for shrimp and muscles by themselves? 
  • 1 pound cleaned squid, preferably tubes and tentacles or 1 pound cleaned baby octopus. 
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • 2 larger garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Salt to taste 
For Squid:
Rinse the squid in a strainer with cold water.  Cut the tubes into 3/8 inch rings.  Pending their size, cut the tentacles in halves or thirds.

Cook squid in a pot of boiling water untl they begin to firm, about a minute for small, minute and a half for larger.  Empty cooked squid into a strainer and cool with cold tap water.  When drained, pat dry with paper towel and place squid in a bowl.

For Baby Octopus:
Rinse the Octopus in cold water.  Cut the octopus in uniform bite size pieces.  Place them in a strainer.  Submerge in boiling water for about 45 seconds.  Check for doneness, just firm.  If needed, dip them very briefly in the boiling water again being careful not to overcook.  Cool octopus in cold tap water.       

Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour dressing into the squid or octopus and mix well.  Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight.  Check for seasoning then serve in bowls with a spoon and crusty bread.