I love to serve shrimp for special occasions. Inherently high in flavor, you don’t need to do much to them to create a tasty dish. Also, shrimp cook quickly, so you’re not stuck long in the kitchen.
Recently I tried a citrus-marinated grilled shrimp recipe from Gale Gand’s cookbook, Lunch! (the exclamation point is part of the book title). It was simply delicious.
The next time, I decided to riff on the idea by creating a Latin flavor profile with lime and cilantro. And I served it for a celebratory dinner for two for Steve and me. Along with a green salad and mock rice pilaf (where I sautéed chopped parsley, onion, pine nuts and currants in butter, to toss in rice cooked in chicken broth), it was a lovely, effortless meal.
You need large shrimp for this recipe. Shrimp are sold by count—the count reflects the number of shrimp per pound. For example, if your package is labeled, “21/25,” it means that a pound will yield 21 to 25 shrimp. If the package says, “U-15,” it means there are under 15 shrimp per pound, which is the type I bought.
I used flat bamboo skewers, about ¼-inch thick, which hold the shrimp more firmly than ordinary bamboo skewers. The wedge of lime inserted between the head and tail of the shrimp serves to add flavor, and also acts as a spacer, when you thread the shrimp on the skewers, to keep from packing the shrimp too tightly together, which makes them difficult to cook evenly.
You can multiply this recipe to serve more people; the marinade, as is, could be used for about 24 large shrimp.
Grilled Shrimp with Lime-Cilantro Marinade
2 large limes
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, including stems
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
12 large shrimp (under 15 to a pound)
8 red or yellow cherry tomatoes
24 (10-inch) bamboo skewers (flat type preferred)
To make the marinade, using a Microplane grater, grate the green peel from the limes, avoiding the white pith. In a gallon-size zip-top plastic freezer bag, combine grated lime peel, oil, garlic, cilantro, salt and a few grinding of pepper.
Peel and devein shrimp; do not remove tails. Rinse, drain and add shrimp to the plastic bag with the marinade, seal top and massage the bag to mix marinade ingredients and disperse marinade around the shrimp. Marinate shrimp for 3 to 24 hours in the refrigerator, turning bag once or twice.
Meanwhile, slice limes, crosswise, about 3/8-inch thick (thick enough so it can be threaded on a skewer), then cut into wedges (quartered or cut in sixths, depending on the side of the limes).
When ready to cook, thread one shrimp from the head end, thread a lime wedge, then the tail end of the shrimp. The idea is to catch both ends of the shrimp on the skewer, in the shape of a “C,” with the lime wedge skewered between as a spacer. Thread a cherry tomato next on the skewer; repeat until you have three shrimp on the skewer, with a tomato between each shrimp. Follow the same procedure for remaining shrimp, lime wedges and tomatoes. Drizzle marinade over the shrimp.
Preheat grill to medium and grill about 3 minutes a side, until shrimp are pink and opaque.
Makes 2 servings, six shrimp per person.
Recipe adapted from the cookbook, Lunch! by Gale Gand.
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