Thu May 3, 2018
Sometimes I feel like the entire world loves shrimp except me. I've been seafood averse my whole life, and while I'm more tolerant of sea creatures nowadays, shrimp has not followed suit and remains pretty firmly avoided. Knowing I'm somewhat isolated in this respect, I feel like I can't not cook shrimp, and if I'm going to cook it, I'm going to grill it up the best it can be. So with some tricks to success and a delicious chipotle-lime sauce, I ended up with a dish here that even I partook in, albeit in a smaller than normal quantity.
You really can't go wrong with a chipotle-lime combo—smoky, earthy, and spicy chipotles in adobo gain new life from a breath of bright citrus. I've used this pairing often throughout my time developing recipes, and it's normal protocol for me to also add in honey to create a balancing sweetness as well as cilantro for herbal freshness. Knowing this is a winning combo from experience, I saw no need to change it up and made a sauce comprised exactly from those minimal ingredients.
Taking a cue from 'cue, I decided I wanted to pair that sauce with a dry rub. This too I kept simple, making it up of chili powder, brown sugar, salt, cumin, pepper, and garlic powder—all flavors that would compliment and build upon the sauce. I did add one seemingly off ingredient though—baking powder.
The baking powder here is the first trick to getting some really great shrimp on the grill. It works in a way that both helps the shellfish retain moisture while also speeding up browning—which is important when a goal is quick cooking to avoid ending up with overdone, dry, and rubbery shrimp.
The next little tip for best results is to skewer the shrimp close together, so that they touch each other. This method reduces the surface area and extends the cooking time, affording you a little more room for error. Once skewered, I also let the shrimp air dry in the fridge for an hour, which was another tool in reducing surface moisture, leading to faster browning.
After that hour rest, I had a fresh batch of coals lit and ready to go and it was time to get these crustaceans cooked up. Before hitting the grill though, I brushed the shrimp lightly in oil. Seafood is notorious for fusing to the grates, so a little extra oil to help keep it from sticking is never a bad idea.
Hot and fast cooking is the name of the game here, and I can't understate that fast portion. Shrimp cook quickly, so fast that if you step away even for a tiny little bit of time, you could run the risk of overcooking. Over direct heat, these skewered shrimp were almost cooked through is just about one and half minutes per side.
Once they got to the almost, but not fully cooked state, I moved them over to the cool side of my two-zone fire and brushed them with the sauce. I did this over indirect heat for two reasons—first was to avoid overcooking by delivering the heat in a cooler, more gentle fashion, and the second was to keep the sauce from burning, which honey will do very quickly over a fire. It took about two minutes more of cooking for the shrimp to finish up and the sauce to thicken up a bit, at which point I transferred the skewers to a platter and served.
These finished shrimp were plump, juicy, and packed with flavor thanks to all the little extra steps taken and a keeping close eye on the cooking. That natural flavor of the shrimp still isn't one I'm totally digging, but that rub and sauce combo created a killer earthy chili taste with a nice touch of sweetness and heat that was irresistible—even to my shrimp naysaying self. Luckily I'm in a pretty lonely place in that respect and have tons of friends who would eat these up in no time, and they'd be a pretty special treat too as shrimp is somewhat of rarity at the Meatwave.
Grilled Chipotle-Lime Shrimp
- Prep Time:
- 15 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 1 Hour
- Cook Time:
- 5 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 1 Hour 20 Minutes
- 6 servings
- For the Glaze:
- 1 chipotle chili in adobo, minced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilies in adobo
- 1 teaspoon lime zest
- For the Seasoning:
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 10 to 12 bamboo skewers, soaked for 30 minutes prior to use
- To Make the Glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together chipotle chili, honey, lime juice, cilantro, adobo sauce, and lime zest. Set aside.
- To Make the Seasoning: In a small bowl, combine chili powder, dark brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and baking powder. Place shrimp in a medium bowl and sprinkle on seasoning mixture. Toss to coat shrimp thoroughly. Thread shrimp onto 2 sets of skewers, pushing shrimp together so they're just touching. Lay skewers across edges of a baking dish so shrimp are suspended above bottom of dish. Transfer to refrigerator and rest for 1 hour.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange coals on one side of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil grilling grate. Brush shrimp all over with glaze and place on hot side of grill. Cook until shrimp are almost cooked through, but not fully opaque throughout, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
- Move shrimp to cool side of grill and brush again with glaze. Cover grill and let cook until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a cutting board. Remove shrimp from skewers and transfer to a plate or serving platter.