I'm on a small quest to bring more seafood recipes to The Meatwave. I've admittedly tried this before and ended up reverting back to my seafood adverse ways, making little progress in becoming the more holistic eater I wish I was. I think this time is different though because I have the nudge of two newish Meatwavers who are pescatarians, and just as I've been adapting to cooking for the larger vegetarian constituency I now enjoy, I'll likely keep seafood more top of mind because of these particular friends. So when mapping out a menu for a cookout that featured spicy dishes, this mango-habanero shrimp had no problem making the cut.
It should come as no surprise that this recipe started off with mangos and habaneros. I've been using the ataulfo variety of mangos lately, preferring them for their softer flesh and sweeter flavor over the larger, more common grocery store mangos. When thinking of the right pepper to pair with mango, habanero was a no brainer—it has a complimentary bright fruity flavor, but with an intense heat that would be noticeable, yet balanced with the sweet mango.
From there, I gave the marinade a slight Indian-influenced identity by using garam masala, ginger, garlic, and lemon juice as the additional seasonings. I put all of those items into the blender and pureed until smooth, then drizzled in olive oil with the motor running to end up with a final cohesive sauce that just needed a little salt and brown sugar to make it taste whole.
Not having a proper butcher near me has been a hard adjustment to make from my time in New York, but the same also goes for a fishmonger. I do have one seafood shop near my house, but my past experiences there haven't left me impressed, so I've been relying on the supermarkets, and mainly frozen fish. This isn't really all bad though, because the frozen shrimp I've gotten from the grocery have tasted fresher than what I've gotten at the fish shop, which were probably frozen shrimp already defrosted and sitting around for a day or two. Frozen shrimp only take a few minutes to defrost under running cold water, so they don't really add much extra time or planning.
Once I had the shrimp defrosted and peeled, I transferred them to a Ziploc bag and added in the marinade. Because of the acid content from lemon juice, I didn't want a very long marinating time, so only left them in the fridge for an hour prior to skewering.
And with skewering shrimp, I've come to change up my method in recent years. I used to skewer the body and tail to secure the shrimp in a spiral shape, but I now skewer them through the middle of the body only and pack them on as densely as possible. Since shrimp cook very quickly, loading them up in this tight manner actually makes them take a little longer to grill, allowing more leeway in getting them right, avoiding dry and chewy overcooked shrimp.
And this is key when trying to get the right balance of browning and doneness. A blazing hot fire is your best friend achieving beautiful caramelization and char on quick cooking food, but it can also render things overdone really fast too, so I'll take any extra insurance in preventing overcooking, which this skewering method affords me.
These shrimp certainly proved this method works—they had some very attractive charring and caramelization with meat that was just cooked through and still soft and juicy. The flavor of the marinade was the real star here though, with an upfront fruitiness that paired well with the sweetness of the shrimp, enough spice to add a bit of complexity and bite, and a heat that contrasted well with the sugars, but wasn't overwhelming at all. This represented another seafood win for the 2019 season after some delicious tuna nachos, and that means I'm more likely to keep this fishy trend going.
- Yield 4 servings
- Prep 15 Minutes
- Inactive 30 Minutes
- Cook 5 Minutes
- Total 50 Minutes
- 1 ripe mango, peeled and cored
- 2 habanero peppers, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
- 3 medium garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined, and rinsed
- Place mango, habaneros, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, and brown sugar in the jar of a blender. Cover and puree until smooth. Remove lid filler cap, and with the motor running, drizzle in oil. Season with salt to taste.
- Place shrimp in a large resealable bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Thread shrimp onto 2 sets of skewers, pushing shrimp together so they're just touching.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place shrimp skewers on grill and cook, turning occasionally, until shrimp are well charred and just cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes total.
- Transfer shrimp to a cutting board or serving platter and let rest until cool enough to handle. Remove shrimp from skewers and serve immediately.