A shrimp is a good thing
May 8, 2014
I love shrimp. I’m not sure but what shrimp may be my favorite protein from the animal kingdom side of the house.
It’s a versatile critter. You can boil them up in a Cajun boil, with potatoes and corn and a chunk or three of Andouille sausage and some really good shrimp boil seasoning. You can grill ’em. You can sauce them and put them over grits. You can bread and fry ’em, although damned if I know why you’d want to. You can bake ’em, you can saute’ ’em, you can put them in a salad or on a salad or hang them on the rim of a martini glass filled with an astonishingly wonderful cocktail sauce.
I love ’em. I’ve never tasted anything with a shrimp that I didn’t like. And want more.
One of the advantages of traveling frequently between Jonesboro and points southwest is that one travels down U.S. Highway 67. In addition to having forgiving state troopers (including the one who didn’t blink when I breezed past his parking spot doing 80 in a 70 yesterday), it takes you by the metropolis of Bald Knob, of which I have written before. And when I go by Bald Knob headed home, and it’s a decent hour, I’m doggoned near always gonna stop and either get a strawberry shortcake at the Bulldog, or pick up shrimp or oysters or other goodies at the Big Bayou Market to take home.
Yesterday, I was still full from a Mooyah burger and sweet potato fries in Hot Springs two hours earlier, so I regretfully bypassed the Bulldog. I did not bypass the Big Bayou. I at least made do with just a pound of large shrimps, which are residing in my fridge on ice as I type. Haven’t quite decided what will become of ’em, but it may be this prep I did a while back with the last shrimps I picked up from there.
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably natural
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, more as needed
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger root
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt, more as needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
- 1 pound cleaned large shrimp
- 2 cups pineapple chunks
- Whole cilantro leaves and torn basil leaves, for garnish
In a food processor or blender, combine peanut butter, coconut milk, 3 tablespoons hot water, lime juice, sugar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sriracha and a pinch of salt. Purée until smooth. Add more lime juice and or salt to taste. Scrape into a bowl.
Heat oven to 500 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and chile flakes. Thread shrimp on skewers; brush all over with half the peanut oil mixture. Thread pineapple on separate skewers; brush with remaining oil mixture. Arrange shrimp and pineapple skewers on a large rimmed baking sheet.
Roast skewers, turning them halfway through, until shrimp is opaque, about 5 minutes, and pineapple is lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes (use an oven mitt to remove shrimp skewers as they finish cooking but leave the pineapple in for longer). Sprinkle skewers with herbs and serve hot, with peanut sauce for dipping.
These are just easy. I put some coconut rice (rice, coconut milk, water, cumin, a little red pepper) on in the rice cooker before I got started on the shrimp. Peeling a pound of large shrimp doesn’t take long; I never bother to devein (your mileage may vary). I put them in a marinade for a few minutes or so (seafood drinks up marinade really quickly, and you can over-season if you’re not careful), while I skewered the pineapple, made up the sauce and heated up the broiler. I went ahead and put the pineapple in the broiler before I skewered the shrimp, to give it a bit of a head start, since I knew it’d need to cook longer to get a little caramelization going.
A word on the sauce. It was WAY too peanutty, to the point of being overwhelming. I added some more lime juice, and some rice vinegar; that help, but then it had a taste I didn’t like, so I added some soy sauce and sesame oil. I’m thinking next time I’m going to just start with all the other stuff and add peanut butter a bit at a time.
On the flip side of that, I also think I’ll add something to the peanut oil and chile flakes. Not sure what. But the shrimp, sans sauce, were a touch on the bland side.
All in all, it’s a recipe with possiblities. You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em come over for dinner, and I’ll experiment on you.