A backpacking adventure after college led Michael Bomberg in a different direction. He never intended to make a living as a chef, but a trek through Western Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East gave him food for thought.

Now Bomberg is guiding San Antonio’s Anaqua Grill (555 S. Alamo) through a world of changes that reflect a more relaxed attitude toward dining. The emphasis is on simplicity: Hot-rock cooking from the German Alps and bamboo steaming keep nutrients and add taste. Bomberg’s masa-battered shrimp—reminiscent of a childhood favorite, the corny dog—are an excursion into sophistication when combined with his green pumpkin-seed salsa and orange-jicama salad.

Masa-Battered Shrimp

2 quarts oil
12 to 16 Gulf shrimp, peeled, with tails
1 1/2 cups Masa Harina
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
8 ounces Shiner Bock beer
Salt, white pepper, and cumin to taste
Green pumpkin-seed salsa (recipe below)
Orange-jicama salad (recipe below)

Heat oil to 350 degrees in deep fryer. Devein and butterfly shrimp. Combine masa, 1/2 cup flour, and baking powder. In separate bowl, beat eggs and beer. Add to masa mixture, and stir until smooth. Add seasonings, then chill 1 hour. Dredge shrimp in remaining flour, then dip in batter. With tongs, hold shrimp by tail and swish in hot oil until they begin to cook. Drop into oil, and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain; pat dry.

To serve, place 1/4 of room-temperature salsa on plate and surround with 3 or 4 shrimp and orange-jicama salad. Serves 4.

Green Pumpkin-Seed Salsa

1/4 cup green pumpkin seeds
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 serrano chile, peeled and seeded
1 medium white onion, peeled
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
2 teaspoons chopped chives
2 teaspoons chopped coriander
1 cup clam juice
1 tablespoon lime juice

Toast pumpkin seeds on cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Then toast tomatoes, chile, and onion on cookie sheet about 15 minutes. Let cool. In blender, mix all ingredients until smooth.

Orange-Jicama Salad

6 medium red onions, thinly sliced
2 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 cup olive oil
10 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
10 whole allspice berries
3/4 cup vinegar
2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup peeled jicama matchsticks
2 bunches fresh watercress

Soak onion for 10 minutes in salted water, then drain. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion with spices. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar. Let cool. Combine orange and jicama, then add watercress. Top with onion rings.