Most shrimp salads drown in a sea of mayonnaise, in part to hide the rubbery, flavorless boiled shrimp.
We wanted perfectly cooked shrimp without the extra work of grilling, roasting, or sautéing. And we needed to coat them with the perfect deli-style dressing-something creamy that wouldn't mask the shrimp flavor or drown out the other ingredients.
Using a technique practiced in the 1970s by French chef Michel Guérard, we started cooking our shrimp in a cold court-bouillon (leaving out the white wine, which tasters found overwhelming), then heating the shrimp and liquid to just a near simmer. Because we started them in cold liquid and minimized their cooking time, the shrimp better absorbed the poaching flavors and stayed firm and tender. We kept the traditional mayonnaise in our salad dressing, but limited the amount to 1/4 cup per 1 pound of shrimp. For a traditional salad, we added unifying aromatic and herbal notes with diced celery, minced shallots, chopped herbs, and fresh lemon juice. For the variations, we added the bolder flavors of chipotle chile, orange, and roasted red pepper.