As part of my “get ready for summer” series, I thought we’d start off with a tantalizing recipe for grilled shrimp skewers. I know many of you are shaking your head… saying “this is not a traditional” Caribbean dish, but I assure you this Caribbean twist of grilling shrimp will rock your socks off. After just a nibble and you’ll see why I decided to start the month of grilling with this appetizer. Be ready to amaze your guests when you guys gather this summer… go ahead and take all the credit! Be sure to have some good Lager on hand to wash these down.
1 lb 21-25 Shrimp (peeled/deveined)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 lemon (see note below)
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon golden brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 leaves shado beni (see note below)
1 scallion (aka spring onion or green onion)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
Notes: The same lemon I used for grating the lemon zest, I used for the juice. When handling the scotch bonnet pepper be sure to wear gloves and don’t include any of the seeds. The area surrounding and including the seeds is where the real tempo of the pepper can be found. If you don’t have access to shado beni, you can use 2 to 3 tablespoons of freshly chopped cilantro. You can also add a tablespoon of fresh parsley as well if you like.
The first thing we need to do is peel and devein the shrimp. Basically all you do is remove the outer shell off the shrimp, then with the curve side up (like a rainbow) use a pairing knife to cut along the middle of the back (not too deep) until you see a dark sort of thread. Then under running water, wash that away. Here’s a video clip on how to peel and devein shrimp:
Wash and set the cleaned shrimp aside for a few minutes as we prepare the marinade. Chop the scallion, scotch bonnet pepper and shado beni as fine as you can and place it a deep bowl (we’ll do the marinating here). Now grate the lemon zest into the same bowl, then cut the lemon in half and squeeze in the juice. The final step is to add the salt, black pepper, all spice, olive oil, brown sugar, grated ginger and brown sugar and give it a good stir.
Place the cleaned shrimp into the bowl and give it a good stir. Cover with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to marinate for about 10 minutes. Try not to go beyond 10 minutes as the lemon juice will start to cook the shrimp. Do remember to soak your bamboo (you’ll need about 10) in water for about 1/2 hr before you thread them with the marinated shrimp.
These are best served warm off the grill, so do keep that in mind before you start to grill. Since these shrimp skewers are meant to be an appetizer, we’ll thread 2 on each bamboo skewer. In the video below you’ll see how I went about this.
Set your grill to a medium/high heat, then brush the grilling grates with some oil. I had a small bowl with veg oil and using a long tongs with a piece of paper towel at the end, I brushed on the oil. This will prevent the shrimp skewers from sticking. Make sure you have a clean grilling surface.
Now place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook for 2 minutes on each side over that medium heat. Don’t cook longer as they can go tough if overcooked. Do remember that they will continue cooking for a short period after they’re removed off the direct heat.
TIPS: Though we’ve soaked the bamboo skewers in water, they may still char (as in my pics), you can wrap tin foil over the exposed ends or grill with one burner, so the bamboo never gets in direct contact with the heat. Additionally, you can also spread a piece of tin foil across the grill to form a sort of protective barrier for the long exposed ends of the bamboo skewers.
If you’re wondering if these require a dipping sauce.. NO! The flavours we’ve created with the brown sugar, all spice, scotch bonnet pepper and ginger will challenge any taste bud to find something more exciting and delicious. And the hint of scallions, lemon zest and shado beni will give it a wonderful finishing kick! BTW if you’re not squeamish about reusing the marinade.. get a French stick (bread) and brush with this marinade and grill for a minute or two on medium/low heat!