~ That's a Wrap: Creamy & Crunchy Shrimp Salad ~
Wrap sandwiches were not something I grew up eating in the 1960's or '70's, and my children, who were growing up in the '80's didn't either. Mexicans, Middle Easterners and Greeks have been eating wraps since before the 1900's, but, the "American wrap sandwich", the one all of us are familiar with now (a soft flour tortilla or thin flatbread wrapped in such a way as to fully encase any combination of cold or hot ingredients one could put between two slices of bread or on a roll), wasn't invented until the 1980's. The concept of the wrap is as simple as the sandwich: pick it up and eat it out of hand, it's easily transportable and can be eaten on the go.
Tales of the wrap's creation are vague. The creator is not known for sure. One claim comes from baseball's Bobby Valentine, who says he invented it in his Sports Gallery Cafe in Stamford, CT, in the 1980's. He says a toaster broke so he wrapped the ingredients for a club sandwich in a tortilla. He called it a Club Mex but didn't officially rename it a wrap until the mid 1990's (a waitress has verified this). A second claim, is from a Southern California chain, I Love Juicy, who did in fact start selling wraps in the 1980's (as a spin-off of the Tex-Mex burrito), and, by the 1990's most of the USA was catching onto them. Not to be too cliche, but, I really did eat my first wrap sandwich, labeled a "California chicken club wrap", in CA in the latter 1980's. Read on:
It was a room temperature wrap. A mixture of shredded, grilled chicken breast, bacon, tomato, avocado and lettuce leaves, with just enough Ranch dressing slathered on the soft flour tortilla to hold it all together. On that same trip, I ate a "Texas ranch wrap" too. It was served in a warm tortilla and contained warm, sliced rare steak, melting Jack cheese and pickled onions, and, it came with creamy horseradish sauce -- I adored it. My love affair with wrap sandwiches began on that trip. It didn't take me long to realize that some of my favorite quick-to-make-for-lunch creamy and crunchy egg, seafood or tuna salads taste even better wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
My favorite shrimp salad (besides perfectly-cooked sweet, tender shrimp), contains crunchy celery, tiny bits of onion, Dijon-flavored mayonnaise (I prefer the tang of Dijon in shrimp salad as opposed to lemon juice, which I think overpowers the salad) and slightly-undercooked hard-cooked egg (I like the yolk to be a little creamy). Avocado may be substituted for the egg, but, because it discolors so quickly, If my family is not eating these wraps the moment I make them, I prefer the egg. A pinch of sea salt and black pepper and voila -- it's ready to be snugly wrapped.
1 pound extra-large shrimp (16-20 count), peeled, deveined, tails removed, cooked, drained, chilled and chopped into small 1/4"-1/2" pieces, about 2 cups of small-chopped cooked shrimp (Note: For detailed instructions, read my recipe for ~ Once upon a time... A Tale about Shrimp Cocktail ~ in Categories 1, 11, 14, 16 or 21.)
2 extra-large eggs, hard-cooked, peeled and small-diced (3/4 cup)
Note: My eggs were cooked in "shivering" (barely simmering) water for exactly 10 minutes.
4-5 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon each: celery seed and sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely-gound black pepper
~ Step 2. Gently but thoroughly stir, cover and refrigerate until well-chilled, 2-4 hours or overnight.
Go on, take a taste & admit it, this shrimp salad is divine:
There's no trick to making a tortilla wrap, except, to make one properly, the sandwich needs to be fully-encased -- it's not an open-sided sandwich. If it's open-sided, it's a taco. The easiest way to fold the tortillas is to place them (2-4-6 at a time) in the microwave for 10-15 seconds -- this renders them soft and pliable. Once out of the microwave, fill and roll them immediately. The general rule is, the wrap should be amply filled and plump, but not overstuffed, as, too much filling causes it to split open. Each wrap must be snugly wrapped, to keep all ingredients from falling out, and, once wrapped, experts usually hold the two end sides temporarily in place, using two toothpicks, prior to slicing -- once you fold one or two, you'll see how simple this is.
8 8"-round flour tortillas (Note: Smaller 6"-round tortillas can be substituted and will yield 12 appetizer-sized wraps.)
1 1/2 cups chiffonade of romaine lettuce, about 1/4 cup per wrap
3/4 cup seeded and drained on paper towels, small-diced tomato, about 2-3 teaspoons per wrap
~Step 1. To fill each 8" tortilla wrap: place a warm tortilla on a flat surface. Place 6 tablespoons of filling, in a 5"-long "log shape" on the lower third of the tortilla. Place 2-3 tablespoons of lettuce next to the filling on the side closest to you, followed by a "strip" of tomatoes over the top.
~Step 2. To wrap, pick up the side of the tortilla closest to you, pull it up over the filling and tuck it in underneath the filling. Lift, fold and press the open left and right ends up and over the top, then roll the tortilla over, seam side down. Secure either end with a toothpick. Using a serrated bread knife, slice each sandwich, on an angle, through the center. Serve immediately, or:
To wrap the wraps ahead of time (pictured above), in lieu of toothpicks, wrap each uncut sandwich in plastic wrap. Place on a plate and refrigerate for several hours (4-6 hours, but, I do not recommend overnight), prior to slicing and serving chilled with pickles and potato chips.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 4-cup food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; paper towels; toothpicks; plastic wrap (optional); serrated bread knife
Cook's Note: Perfectly-cooked eggs are a passion of mine, and, when it comes to egg salad, I am a snob. My recipe for ~ Simplicity: Creamy-Crunchy, "Classic" Egg Salad ~, found in Categories 2, 15, 20 or 26, plus some bacon, lettuce and tomato makes for another fabulous wrap sandwich.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)