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Shrimp signify Oregon coast summer

For some people it’s burgers and dogs. For others, it’s Southern-style barbecue or New England clambakes.

For me, shrimp signify summer. I’m not talking about any shrimp, of course. Summer on Oregon’s South Coast is high season for Pacific pink shrimp, usually fished from April through October.

Also known as “bay” or “salad” shrimp, these are one of the most sustainable seafood choices, certified for nearly 15 years by the Marine Stewardship Council. With one of the longest season’s on the West Coast, the fishery has averaged about 30 million pounds annually for more than 30 years.

Much of the pink shrimp haul is frozen for use all year. But those specimens pale next to fresh-off-the-boat stock, which we eat about as simply — an unapologetically — as possible.

The indulgence typically starts with a straightforward shrimp cocktail and progresses to classic Louis salads. If we haven’t gotten our fill by late summer, we’ll toss shrimp into pasta dishes or fold it into omelets. Delicate dishes are best for preserving the flavor and texture of these tiny, succulent shellfish.

And because they are sold cooked and peeled, pink shrimp save a few steps required for larger shrimp. That makes them ideal substitutions in recipes like this one that dress shrimp with a spicy sauce and pair them with rich but mild avocado and tender greens. It’s another generation’s idea of “diet food” that’s the furthest thing from deprivation.

If you don’t have access to pink shrimp, choose shrimp farmed in the United States or Canada, known as Pacific white shrimp, for its sustainable methods. Avoid any farmed shrimp that does not have a sustainable designation.

Tribune News Service photo

Shrimp Cocktail Salad

12 ounces peeled, deveined medium-size shrimp (51 to 60 count), thawed (may substitute Pacific pink shrimp)

1 large lime

1/3 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon pureed chipotle in adobo or Mexican red pepper hot sauce

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 roasted red bell pepper, diced (jarred is fine)

1/4 cup drained, thinly sliced green olives

2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced red onion, well rinsed

1/2 large avocado, pitted and peeled, flesh diced

2 to 3 cups mixed salad greens or 4 to 6 large Boston or leaf lettuce leaves

Fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedges, for garnish

Saltines or other crackers, for serving

Put the shrimp into a large saucepan with just enough water to cover. Squeeze juice from the lime into a cup. Set juice aside.

Put lime rinds in pan with shrimp. Heat to a gentle simmer; stir well and remove from heat. Let stand until all shrimp are pink, for about 2 minutes. Drain well. (You can save cooking liquid for use in seafood soups; freeze up to 1 month.) Skip this step if using Pacific pink shrimp.

In a large bowl, mix the ketchup, pureed chipotle (or hot sauce) and salt. Add reserved lime juice to taste. Gently stir in cooked and drained shrimp, the diced pepper, olives and red onion. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate, covered, up to several hours .

When ready to serve, gently stir diced flesh from the avocado into shrimp mixture. Arrange 1 cup mixed salad greens or 2 lettuce leaves on each serving plate. Gently divide shrimp mixture, piling it over lettuce leaves. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and lime wedges. Serve with the crackers.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.