Culinary SOS: Chaya’s chopped salad is big, bright, spicy

The chopped salad made at Chaya Downtown. Recipe
The chopped salad made at Chaya Downtown. Recipe
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Times

Dear SOS: I had lunch with a friend at Chaya Downtown restaurant, in Los Angeles. We ordered their chopped salad with grilled shrimp in an aioli jalapeño dressing. It was superb! I’d love to make it at home. Can you get the recipe from the chef?

Velma Reichman

Pacific Palisades

Dear Velma: Chopped romaine lettuce tossed with fresh corn, avocado, cucumber and nicely spiced shrimp, this salad is big and bright, and it packs no shortage of heat from its jalapeño-spiced dressing. Chaya was happy to share its recipe for chopped salad, which we’ve adapted below.


Chaya’s chopped salad

Total time: 50 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from Chaya. For the celery seed powder, grind celery seeds in a spice or coffee grinder, or use a mortar and pestle.


2 jalapeños

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Juice from 1 lemon


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

1. Roast the jalapeños: Place the jalapeños on a rack set over a stove-top burner and roast until charred on all sides. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel and seed.

2. In a blender, combine the jalapeños, mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil, and blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This makes about 1 cup dressing. Cover and chill until needed.


Sautéed shrimp

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/8 teaspoons cumin


1 1/8 teaspoons onion powder

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Pinch cayenne pepper


Pinch celery seed powder

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces medium shrimp

1. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper and celery seed powder to make a spice blend.


2. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot, then add the olive oil. Add the shrimp and sauté until slightly opaque, 1 to 2 minutes, then sprinkle over the spice blend and continue cooking just until opaque. Remove from heat and set aside.

Chopped salad

2 hearts of romaine, chopped

1 cucumber, diced


1/2 avocado, diced

1 whole cob white corn, kernels removed (about 1 1/3 cups kernels)

Sautéed shrimp

Dressing, divided


1/4 cup crumbled cotija cheese

16 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup chopped cilantro, as a garnish

1. In a large bowl, toss the chopped romaine with the cucumber, avocado, corn kernels and shrimp. Add half the dressing and gently toss to coat. Add additional dressing, a couple of tablespoons at a time, to coat as desired.


2. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with 1 tablespoon cheese, 4 halved tomatoes and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Each serving: 498 calories; 18 grams protein; 22 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 40 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 126 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 1,638 mg sodium.