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Bryan Caswell is chef and owner of Reef in Houston. Food & Wine magazine named him one of the top 10 best new chefs in 2009, and he has twice been nominated for a James Beard Award. Bon Appetit named Reef the best seafood restaurant in the U.S.in 2008.

At Reef, fried mac and cheese and braised collards share the menu with kimchi and sweet and sour chard. His shrimp salad recipe blends some of his favorite flavors and, he says, it would fit right in on any holiday table. 'It's a perfect starter salad, light and crisp," Caswell says.

His favorite food: "Simply grilledfish just off the boat, with a little lemon and a little salad -- that's perfect."

Where he gets his best recipe ideas: "On the last mile of a run, something will often pop into my head. But inspiration can come from anywhere; you just have to be open to it."

The one lesson he thinks every home cook should learn: "Don't overcook your seafood. It only needs a little heat to be done, just to the point where it's slightly opaque."

Steamed Shrimp and Haricot Vert Salad

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 16 large shrimp, butterflied
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Dash of kosher salt
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon Champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon hazelnut oil
  • 2 cups haricots verts, cooked, or green beans, cooked and halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 Fresno or jalapeno chili, julienned
  • 2-3 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1/4 cup pea shoots or other medium sprout
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecan halves

Directions

1. Season shrimp with kosher salt and pepper.

2. Butter a small baking dish and add vinegar and water. Add shrimp in a single layer and steam uncovered in a 250-degree oven until done, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Reserve cooking liquid, warm, and set aside.

4. To make dressing, mix soy sauce and vinegar together; slowly whisk in the oils until combined.

5. Toss salad ingredients in 3-4 tablespoons of dressing, then mound in center of four plates. Add a few pecans to each.

6. Place shrimp around the outside and drizzle some of the cooking liquid on them.

Per serving: 175 calories, 8 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (5 g saturated fat), 54 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 430 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 65%.

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