Recipe: Causa with Shrimp Salad

Causa with Shrimp Salad

It’s avocado season again, and that means getting creative with the multitude of avocados I pick from November through May. Every year I get very excited for the first avocados to ripen, and plentiful guacamole is made. After a while my excitement for guacamole wanes, and I start searching for other recipes to use the avocados in. A while back, while perusing the cooking app from New York Times, I came across a recipe for causa, a cold potato dish from Peru that I enjoy. Inspired by the avocado layer, I bookmarked the recipe for spring when the sun would start shining and I would be tiring of guacamole.

Aji amarillo paste is available on Amazon, and it keeps for quite a while in the refrigerator. The rest of the ingredients are readily available in the local supermarket, so even though this seems like a fairly complex dish, it comes together easily. I’ve added some bell pepper and red onion for both flavor and color, and because it was what I had on hand and seemed like a great idea at the time. So tasty and pretty, it is now a standard part of my recipe!

Causa with Shrimp Salad
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe in NY Times
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

For the potatoes:
3 Yukon gold potatoes
Salt, to taste
2 tablespoons aji amarillo paste, plus more for garnish
1/4 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the avocado layer:
1 avocado, cubed and mashed
1/2 lime, juiced
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the shrimp salad:
12 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped if large
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
Spicy red chili, fresh or dried, finely chopped (optional)
1 – 2 teaspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Scrub the potatoes and place them in a pot of water. Bring to a boil and add salt. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes until potatoes are tender and a fork can easily slide all the way through.

In the meantime, place a small amount of olive oil in a skillet. Sweat the red bell pepper and red onion until just softening. Add the shrimp, a sprinkle of salt, and the hot pepper, if using, and cook until the shrimp are white and opaque, 2 – 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Make the dressing for the shrimp. Combine the mayonnaise, lime juice, cumin, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the avocado layer. Mix the avocado, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mash with a fork to combine.

When the potatoes are fork tender, drain them and submerge in an ice bath for 5 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are closer to room temperature. Drain the potatoes from the ice bath, and mash with the aji amarillo paste, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. If the potatoes seem a bit dry, add a bit more olive oil to smooth the consistency, but they will be slightly chunky.

If there’s excess liquid in the shrimp, drain it off. Once they are cool, toss the shrimp in the mayonnaise dressing. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

To plate, drizzle aji amarillo paste on the plate. Grease a metal ring (4 inch for main, 2 3/4 inch for appetizer) with a little olive oil and place in the middle of the plate. Fill the ring with the potato/causa first, and lift the ring slightly if it is thin. Add the next layer, the avocado, smoothing the top. Lifting the ring again, fill the top layer with shrimp salad and serve.