Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp

22 May

Warmer weather usually means get togethers with family and friends -potlucks, picnics, BBQs – communal cooking and casual dining. One of my fondest childhood memories was the gathering of 3 or 4 families (actual relations, friends, neighbours) to eat shellfish. No bbq, no meats, no fish. Anything with a shell – lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels – that all the men in the family would go early morning to the docks to buy fresh off the boats and the women would clean/devein and boil and serve on large platters, only to be instantly descended upon and devoured. It wasn’t the just the food that brought people together, but the barbaric and natural act of eating without utensils and using your teeth, fingers and the occasional napkin. The communal and raw way of eating shellfish like this transcended sex, age, race and class – and gave way to a sense of bonding.

In honor of the first long (and much anticipated) weekend of the year – I give you Yucatan Shrimp. Happy bonding.

Yucatan Shrimp (wok style)

Variations below

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (yes, the whole damn thing)
  • Juice of two large limes
  • 1 tablespoon Indonesian sambal (preferably sambal oelek)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large, fresh, shell-on shrimp (or prawns, deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to saucepan. When it melts, stir in the lime juice, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.

3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until they are just firm and pink. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander and shake over the sink to remove excess moisture.

4. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and chili sauce. Add jalapeño, if desired, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serves 4, messily. Adapted from Greg Nelson at Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, Sanibel Island, Fla.

Notes: Do not use more butter than needed, or your shrimp will be swimming in oil. Be liberal with the garlic – you can never have too much! Because I didn’t have sambal on hand, I figured since it’s kinda stinky and spicy, I mixed fish sauce and vietnamese chili sauce and threw in some lemongrass paste. If it’s not sweet enough, squirt  in some agave, or use honey if you don’t have it. Sugar is just too 2D sometimes. Serve with beer and lime.


Yucatan Shrimp (BBQ style)

  • 2 tablespoons achiote powder (see Note)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Summer Vegetable Rice and lemons, for serving
  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, blend the achiote, garlic, orange and lemon juices, chile powder, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the oil. Add the shrimp and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Thread the shrimp onto six 12-inch skewers. Season with salt; reserve the marinade. Grill the shrimp over a hot fire, basting with the marinade, until barely cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with Summer Vegetable Rice and lemon wedges. Serves 6.

Notes: Achiote powder is ground from achiote (annatto) seeds. It has no discernible flavor and is used in Latin cooking to give dishes a reddish-orange color. Achiote powder and seeds are available at Latin markets and some supermarkets.

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One Response to “Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp”

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  1. Tweets that mention Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp « Nansiepants -- Topsy.com - May 23, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nancy Ho, Michele Kinnon. Michele Kinnon said: Summer Dishes: Yucatan Shrimp ! https://nansiepants.wordpress.com/2010/05/22/summer-dishes-yucatan-shrimp/ http://fb.me/sVxkS2TW […]

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