Mélange, is defined as “a mixture, a medley”. It’s the perfect description of this “medley”—as this combines, shrimp, scallops, calamari rings, and imitation crabmeat, for the seafood. And the mélange of vegetables—red onion, olives, bell pepper, and recao or culantro. It’s sublime. It’s perfection…a mélange of flavors. Felix, The Latin Lover’s brother, lives in Puerto Rico. He and his family endured the wrath of Maria’s direct hit on Puerto Rico. It continues to be a plague and a wretched situation. If you would like to help the people of Puerto Rico, you can find a list of legitimate relief agencies here. He is staying with us for a bit and tonight he made this fabulous dish for our dinner. It was truly incredible and he is graciously allowing me to share it with you. You’re going to be so grateful to him. It’s yummy. I think this will be lovely as a first course, on your holiday buffet table, or with a fork over the sink!
For the shrimp, you can use any size cooked shrimp and cut them into pieces, thirds or halves, depending on the size of the shrimp. You want the pieces to be about the size of the end of your thumb.
The Barefoot Contessa is sort of soft-spoken genius. When she makes shrimp cocktail, she roasts her shrimp. It truly is genius. It’s simple and the shrimp have a nice firm texture and never taste watered-down, like boiled shrimp can taste. Note, that I remove the tails from shrimp when I make shrimp cocktail, and I do so here, as well. I toss the cleaned shrimp, these were extra-large shrimp (26/30 per pound), with olive oil, salt and pepper, as well as orange and lemon zest. Roast in a 350°F for 5-7 minutes, or until opaque. Don’t over-cook these babies! Cool completely before using in this recipe.
A note about recao or culantro. It’s an herb. It’s used extensively in Puerto Rican cooking. We’re using recao, instead of cilantro. As you can clearly see, recao looks nothing like cilantro, but it tastes remarkably like it. You can substitute cilantro freely for the recao. When substituting recao for cilantro, use less, as recao is quite a bit stronger.
This “melange” goes together incredibly easily. You’ll need to cook the scallops and calamari ever so briefly, about 60 seconds for the scallops and no more than 2 minutes for the calamari. The key to remember, when cooking scallops and calamari, is less is more. Don’t over-cook them. Cool them completely before continuing with the recipe. As you can see, I don’t have pictures of this process, because I was relaxing with a glass of wine; I wasn’t cooking, so stupidly, I wasn’t photographing, either. But, it’s pretty simple.
You simply put all the seafood in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Make certain to give the mixture a good stir before you serve it. The amounts given are more or less the amounts he used. And, you could absolutely use a combination of only shrimp and imitation crabmeat, which is what I did when I made it.
Felix's Mélange de Mariscos
- 4-6 ounces bay scallops (optional)
- 4-6 ounces calamari rings (optional)
- 1-2 tablespoons neutral oil
- 8 to 10-ounces large cooked shrimp, de-tailed and cut into chunks
- 8-ounces imitation crabmeat, flaked
- 1/2 cup quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1/4 cup salad olives
- 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped bell peppers
- 1-2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (or 1-3 teaspoons recao)
- Juice of 1 lime (about 2-3 tablespoons)
- 2-3 tablespoons Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing (he used Briannas™)
- Bland crackers, toasted croûtes or a bed of leaf lettuce, for service
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 2-3 teaspoons oil. When hot, add the scallops; sauté for 1 minute. Remove from the heat source; dump into a large bowl and cool completely. Heat the remaining 2-3 teaspoons oil; add the calamari and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat source; dump into a large bowl and cool completely.
When the shrimp and calamari are cool, put the remaining seafood in the same bowl. Add the remaining ingredients; stir until well combined. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours. Stir before serving. Serve with crackers, croûtes, on a buffet tables, as a simple salad or a first course.
NOTE: If you choose to use only shrimp and imitation crabmeat, double the amounts given in the recipe. Stir 1 or 2 diced Haas avocados into the mixture just before serving. Blood orange chunks are also delicious and they add a festive note. If you want a bit of extra heat, add a bit of finely minced jalapeño pepper. Some shredded orange or lemon zest are delicious.
Felix’s Mélange de Mariscos Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018. All rights reserved.