Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups with Tropical Fruit Salsa

I just read an article about a man in India who created a tree that grows 300 varieties of mangoes.

Although the original tree is more than 80 years old, this man has grafted different mango saplings onto it. It’s kind of neat and strange at the same time.

But, it got me thinking: If I could have one tree in my backyard that could grow 300 varieties of something, what would I want? Three hundred is a big number, and I’d probably get tired of that one thing – even if it were chocolate: dark, milk, semisweet, truffle, bittersweet, cordial-filled, pistachio-topped, caramel-injected, syrup, frosting, nibs, bacon-flavored, powdered, and on and on.

For the first two weeks, I would be in chocolate nirvana, a constant state of bliss. But there is a fine line between swimming in chocolaty indulgence and waking up one morning with a massive, head-pounding hangover and wishing that someone – please, anyone – would grab a turkey bulb baster and suck that sugar out of my bloodstream. I call that killing me softly with cocoa.

No, I think I’d ask for a tree that grew more than just one thing. Maybe a salad tree? Radicchio, romaine, celery, fat croutons, fancy olives, shaved Parmesan, real bacon bits.

I could even go for a Bern’s Steakhouse appetizer tree: a selection of expensive caviars, lump crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, black truffle steak tartare, charcoal-grilled chicken skewers – all ripe for plucking. I guess their dessert bar growing from the back of the tree wouldn’t be bad, either.

But honestly, I think the tree that I would choose would be the frozen fruit daiquiri tree: blackberries, limes, lemons, strawberries, passion fruit, raspberries and a little spout on the trunk that dispenses aged rum on tap. Oh, yes, can I get the deluxe model that comes with a scantily dressed cabana boy to serve me drinks and do laundry?

Husband just chimed in for his request: Can the cabana boy also recaulk the kitchen because that really needs to get done this week. This is probably the only time in my life my husband and I are daydreaming about the same cabana boy – and I’m not freaking out.

Well, if you’re big into variety, and I don’t mean 300 mutations of the same fruit, I know you’ll like this recipe. The fruit salsa is flexible – use whatever fruit you like or what’s on sale. Actually, I think pineapple and blueberries would be great in the salsa. And shrimp? If you don’t like shrimp, substitute with large, dry-packed scallops, chicken strips or thin-sliced sirloin. Instead of carrots and cucumbers, serve with matchstick-cut zucchini, radishes or cooked edamame pods.

There’s one thing that you do have to have, and it’s lettuce leaves that can serve as cups. Boston bibb, iceberg and butterhead lettuce all work great. But wait – I guess if you’re not into cutesy cups, grab any type of lettuce and just make this into a salad!

p.s. If you think I cut those perfect carrots by hand, NOPE! I used the Oxo Julienne Tool $9.99 – totally indispensable in my kitchen and I can julienne an entire carrot or cucumber in 20 seconds.


Grilled Shrimp Lettuce Cups with Tropical Fruit Salsa

Servings: 4 servings Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes


1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 cup matchstick-cut carrots
1 cup matchstick-cut cucumbers
1 head iceberg, butterhead or Boston bibb lettuce, leaves separated into "cups"
Sriracha hot sauce (or any hot chili sauce)
1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced papaya
1/2 cup diced kiwi
Pinch of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper


For the Tropical Fruit Salsa: Combine ingredients and set aside until ready to use.
For the Shrimp Lettuce Cups:
Marinate shrimp in soy, orange zest, coriander, chili powder and sesame oil for 15 minutes. Skewer the shrimp on bamboo skewers. Grill shrimp on medium-high, direct heat about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Serve with Fruit Salsa, carrots, cucumber, lettuce cups and hot sauce.

From Steamy Kitchen food column in Tampa Tribune

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Comments 29

  1. Andrea

    Looks yummy! I have to try that Oxo Julienne tool because the Oneida model I won at a Bunco night (yeah, big night) is worthless and I’m spending way too much money on matchstick carrots at the grocery store.

  2. megan

    I just ordered a julienne tool at my papered chef party that I had so I could get the mandoline (upon your recommendation) at 60 percent off! Cant wait to try this recipe!

  3. Kitt

    She slices, she dices, she makes the best julienned veggies you’ve ever tasted! Must get one of those tools.

    And a cabana boy.

  4. Meena

    Hmmn… 300 varieties of chococlate at my disposal? Now that’s something I have to seriously think about. Seriously! Love the salsa, can’t wait to try it out!

  5. courtney

    I likethe ideaof salad tree ,much more practical andbettre on the waistline. I ahve abag of kiwis and now want to paly after seeing your salsa.

  6. Nate

    How about 300 different varieties of durian on that same tree. That would be amazing.

    Salsa looks great. Who did the grilling?

  7. Carolyn Jung

    I’d love an all-sushi tree….though, the perishable nature of seafood makes me think only true magic could make such a thing possible. Ahhh, a girl can dream, though, can’t she?

  8. Marjy

    Mmmmm…how about one side has tequila and the other has rum so we can have a daiqui-rita tree? I do enjoy that julienne tool, although I found that the KitchenAid one fits my little kiddie hands better. You’re inspiring me to try making a mango salsa- it would be a good way to get my husband to eat more fruit!

  9. diva

    wow. what a crazy tree. i’d have a money tree please that grows all the different currencies i need — euros, usd, gbp, sgd thank you.
    🙂 great photos!

  10. lifeinrecipes

    And where can I find one of the daiquiri trees? Although, now that you mentioned cabana boy, I think a cabana boy tree wins for me. Gosh, the shrimp looks delish.

  11. Mike

    That looks awesome…and I wish I had a tree like that. Heck, I wish I could even successfully grow something that would fruit one species, lol

  12. Barry

    “Husband just chimed in for his request: Can the cabana boy also recaulk the kitchen because that really needs to get done this week.”

    I rarely burst out laughing when reading (usually it’s a solid, yet understated, chuckle) but that got me going.

    I like the salad tree and chocolate tree ideas but I think I’d want a cheese tree. That or a bar (bourbon, wine, beer, vodka, gin, sake, etc.) tree. I mean, talk about freeing up the budget to spend more on food when entertaining!

  13. FlaNBoyant Eats

    yup, this is all good. I just made some seared scallops with mango and cilantro as well; but i focused mainly on the taste of the scallops… mango is my absolute favorite fruit in the world. 300 types? I’ve probably tried 40?? I’d grow a tree cocoa and coffee beans!!

  14. Jen Yu

    Good lord, I love your food porn. And most of it isn’t the fattening kind, so yours is like healthy food porn. You’re tempting me to go and purchase all sorts of kitchen tools that I don’t have the space for 🙁 I am dreaming of saying, “julienne carrots!” and it happens. But instead, I have bits of carrot flying off the counter and I have to yell, “Drop it!” to the dog before she eats it up. Anyway, that’s how I imagine you in the kitchen: commanding all of the vegetables to julienne or mince themselves like that Mickey Mouse in Fantasia – except yours doesn’t go awry. I’m rambling now. Time for my meds 😉

  15. Karina

    You are a cruel, cruel woman. 😉 These little gems look fantastically edible. I’ve added them to my gluten-free recipe picks for the week! Thanks, Jaden!

  16. brilynn

    Can I have a Jaden tree? Wait… is that creepy? Have I said too much… uh, I’ll just take the fruit daiquiri tree then…

  17. foodlover

    Judging how much rice or pasta to cook can be difficult as it expands during cooking. Place dry rice (or pasta) on a side plate i.e. a smaller plate than usually used for your meal, until the quantity looks right. Then boil as usual. The cooked rice will fill the larger dinner plate to the same extent. Just do this for each portion required, works whether cooking for one or twenty-one.

  18. rose

    made these – delish! was snowing out, so we did the shrimp under the broiler. also subbed jicama for the cucumber and had to settle for pineapple salsa (the pineapple was from the can), but these were a treat! made them for a friend who needs to follow a gluten free diet, and they were happy with the yummy apps – thanks Jaden!

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