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Bangkok Peel ‘n Eat Shrimp
This recipe was inspired by a street food recipe that I ate regularly while attending cooking school in Thailand. Only instead of shrimp, it was pretty much squid-on-a-stick that would be grilled to order and the stuck in a little plastic bag filled with sweet chili sauce.
I wanted to punch up the flavor a bit so I first marinated the shrimp in a simple bath of red curry paste, coconut milk, garlic and cilantro. Although I prefer to make curry pastes from scratch, but in the interest of time and convenience, the little jar of red curry paste found in the Asian section of the grocery store works just fine.
I chose to leave the shells on the shrimp when I grilled them, not only because I like to eat with my hands :-) , but also because I believe that the cooking the shrimp with the shells intact produce a better flavor. If you prefer to not get your hands dirty, you can certainly feel free to use peeled shrimp. For easy grilling, both the peeled and unpeeled shrimp can be skewered after marinating.
There a re a lot of bottled sweet chili sauces available in supermarkets. However, it is extremely easy to make, is so much better than the bottled variety, and takes no time at all. The recipe below is a half recipe or enough for the two pounds of shrimp. I generally make a full batch (double the recipe) and store the remainder in the fridge for up to one month. It’s fantastic for dressing up everything from a store-bought rotisserie chicken to a simple grilled pork tenderloin.
I like to serve the shrimp on a platter family-style topped with a little chopped cilantro for freshness and wedges of lime for squeezing. If you leave the shells on, be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand plus a couple empty bowls for the shells. Enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons coconut or other neutral oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon light brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for serving
- 2 pounds large shrimp (16 to 20 per pound)
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Sweet Chili Sauce, for serving (recipe follows)
Stainless steel grilling grid (optional)
Method: Direct heat grilling
Melt the coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and red curry paste then stir fry for 1 minute. Whisk in the the coconut milk and brown sugar until combined. Simmer for 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Let cool to room temperature
Using a small, sharp knife or small scissors, slit the shell along the curve of the back of each shrimp, and remove the vein. Place cleaned shrimp in a bowl and toss with cooled red curry mixture. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, but no longer.
Set up grill for direct cooking over medium high heat. If using a grilling grid, heat that as well. Make sure that grates and grid are clean and well-oiled.
Remove shrimp from marinade and place on hot grill and cook until they are opaque throughout (3 to 4 minutes per side). Do not overcook. Transfer shrimp to serving patter. Garnish with a little chopped cilantro and serve immediately with lime wedges and Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce. Alternatively, the shrimp can be served chilled – let shrimp cool to room temperature and the refrigerate until time to serve.
You can certainly use a bottled sauce, but quite frankly, I have never found one that I like as much as this… and it is so easy to make! In Thailand, they use a sweet red pepper that is kind of thin and about 5-inches long. I find them sporadically in Asian markets. You can use red bell peppers, but I find that they have a bit too much water in them and can become a little mushy. I recommend that you use the little red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers that come packaged together. Try to find a bag that has mostly red and orange.
Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
- 1/2 cup seeded and finely chopped sweet peppers
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to one month.