This is my personal twist on the classic mojito, made with good rum, lime, and mint. I use locally caught wild Florida shrimp, but feel free to use any fresh shrimp, then splash it with the mojito fixings. It’s like a tropical vacation on a plate—colorful, sultry, and delicious. In fact, a chilled Cuban mojito is a perfect match. This dish was a huge hit at the festival in 2004; we ran through 1,500 portions in less than two hours!

SERVES 4

4 teaspoons olive oil

16 jumbo Florida shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons dark rum

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus sprigs for garnish

¼ cup minced red onion

1 cup diced avocado

1 large orange, peeled and segmented

1 tablespoon minced jalapeño

In a large sauté pan, warm the oil. Add the shrimp, and stir in the garlic and cumin. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, then reduce the heat and turn the shrimp. Carefully add the rum and then the lime juice. Continue to cook the shrimp until they are rosy pink. Toss the shrimp with the mint and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, and set aside.

In a small stainless-steel bowl, combine the onion, remaining 6 tablespoons cilantro, avocado, orange segments, and jalapeño, and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Toss lightly.

Spoon the salsa into the center of each plate. Arrange the shrimp around the salsa. Drizzle with mojito sauce (the pan juices) and garnish with cilantro sprigs.