Cut off about 1 inch from the lower tail segment of each shrimp and put these tail pieces, along with the 4 smallest shrimp (total weight about 6 ounces) in the bowl of a food processor. Add the egg, garlic, salt, and pepper and process for about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the parsley, and process for another 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl. (You should have about 1 cup.)
Divide the remaining 16 shrimp into 4 portions. Arrange them on a tray so that each group of 4 shrimp is clustered together to form a flat patty. Coat the top surface of each patty with about 1½ tablespoons of the shrimp mousse. Sprinkle half the fresh bread crumbs over the mousse on the patties and press the crumbs gently into the mousse. Using a spatula, gently turn the patties over. Spread the remaining mousse over the patties and coat as before with the remaining bread crumbs. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
At serving time, heat the canola oil and butter in a large skillet until hot. Carefully transfer the patties to the skillet and cook them gently for 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn carefully (they are delicate) and cook for 3 minutes on the other side. Cover and set aside.
FOR THE SALAD: Cut off the bottom 2 1/2 inches from the watercress stems (reserve, if you desire, in the refrigerator or freezer for use in soup). Wash the watercress well and dry it in a salad spinner.
Combine the sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper in the bowl in which you will toss the salad.
Just before serving, add the watercress to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Divide the salad among four plates, place a shrimp patty on top of each, and serve.
Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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