Sweet & Briny Shrimp Salad Inspired by the Novel 'Death By Water'

Sweet & Briny Shrimp Salad Inspired by the Novel 'Death By Water'

Wednesday, 4 December, 2019

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


The Honorable Miss Phryne Fisher is a lady detective in 1920s Melbourne, and she’s the heroine of 20 adventures that usually find her up to her pretty neck in dangerous situations. She (and we) wouldn’t have it any other way.

In this installment, Phryne sets sail on a luxury cruise ship from her homeport of Melbourne, Australia, to New Zealand, on the trail of a jewel thief. Yes, she’s on the job. But that doesn’t stop her from indulging in the ship’s sumptuous cuisine, imbibing its chilled bubbly, or dancing the night away to hot jazz.

This shrimp salad recipe is a wink and a nod to the lavish buffet the passengers enjoy on their first night aboard the S.S. Hinemoa. It’s light, elegant, and all-together satisfying. And like our heroine, it’s a pleasing combination of sweet and salty.

The umami mayo is what makes this recipe sing. You can use store-bought mayo as a base, but we encourage you to take an extra five minutes to make homemade; it’s luscious and easy. Again, like our heroine.

shrimp salad with grapes and cucumbers

Sweet & Briny Shrimp Salad

Serves 2-4. Total time 30 minutes.



  • 2 cups water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp (any size)

Umami Mayo:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade is best)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • pinch ground black pepper


  • 2 cups red seedless grapes
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 4 scallions
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup walnut or pecan halves
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1 seedless cucumber
  • handful fresh chives


Cook the shrimp. Place the water in a medium saucepan or skillet over high heat. Smash and peel the garlic clove, cut the lemon into wedges, and add them to the pot, along with the salt; bring to a boil. Add the shrimp to the pan, stir, and bring it back to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the shrimp sit undisturbed in the hot water for 10 minutes, then remove from the hot water and rinse under cold running water.

Make the umami mayo. Combine the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with a fork until combined.

Prep the fruit. Cut the grapes in half and place in a large mixing bowl. Thinly slice the celery and scallions; add to the bowl. Coarsely chop the parsley and walnuts, then add them to the bowl.

Prep the veggies. Wash the lettuce and pat it dry; thinly slice the red onion and cucumber. Set aside.

Bring it together. When the shrimp are cool, add them to the bowl with the fruit and nuts. Add the mayo and toss gently to combine.

To serve, arrange the lettuce, red onion, and cucumber on serving plates. Top with shrimp salad and sprinkle with chives.

Phryne was angry. The only way that an informed observer could tell was that her lips were a little tighter and her winged nostrils flared as though she was smelling out her prey. Phryne in that mood made Dot uncomfortable. Her employer was about to happen to someone. — Kerry Greenwood

Death by Water

by Kerry Greenwood

In this adventure, Phryne sails from Melbourne to New Zealand on a luxury liner to catch a jewel thief, and, probably, to crack some skulls and break some hearts along the way. Undercover on the S.S. Hinemoa, Phryne flaunts the Queen of Sapphires — a large, sparkly, irresistible stone — as bait to draw out the thief and soon learns that each of the passengers and crew are harboring secrets. There are also jazz musicians, an attempted drowning, blackmail, a sneaky tomcat, beastly husbands, haunting stories of shipwrecks, and a dramatic Maori war dance. {more}

This light-hearted mystery novel (270 pages) was published in December of 2008 by Poisoned Pen Press. The book takes you to New Zealand on a luxury cruise ship. Melissa read Death by Water and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Death by Water


Top image courtesy of marina.

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