This preparation reminds me that even the simplest recipe can provide a cooking lesson or two. To wit:
1. There's more than one way to skewer shrimp, and the one I'm keen on lately involves a vertical, top-to-tail run-through. The flesh is evenly exposed to the heat and the chance of overcooking is reduced. Bonus: The technique is visually interesting.
2. For the grill or grill pan, choose shrimp on the large side; 16-20 count works for me. Normally, I'd take off the tails, but in this case they help keep the shrimp intact for eating by hand.
3. You can skip the soaking step for bamboo skewers when you thread the shrimp pre-marinade. The skewers will get sufficiently moistened to keep them from burning.
4. Hoisin sauce is a great and versatile pantry ingredient, offering timesaving, salty-sweet, umami power. An opened jar can be refrigerated for up to a year, and a modest amount is all it takes here.
5. A finishing touch of melted butter makes these grilled shrimp taste even better. Why limit the brushing technique to biscuits?
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GRILLED HOISIN-GARLIC SHRIMP
3 to 4 servings
This makes such an easy outdoor meal. Smoky flavors from the barbecue and bold spices take the recipe to the next level. You will need medium-length (8- or 9-inch) bamboo skewers for this. Normally, we would call for soaking them so they don't burn on the grill, but the skewers get sufficiently moistened during the time it takes for the shrimp to marinate.
2 medium cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika (sweet or smoked)
1 1/2 pounds peeled/deveined tail-on shrimp (16-20 count), defrosted if frozen
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Leaves from 4 stems parsley or cilantro
Use a Microplane to grate 1 teaspoon of zest each from the lemon and lime, letting them fall into a rectangular baking dish (that is longer than the skewers). Cut the fruit into wedges for serving. Mince the garlic and add to the baking dish, along with the oil, hoisin sauce, salt, black pepper and paprika, then stir until well blended.
Thread the shrimp on your skewers; if you choose to do so as shown in the accompanying photo (sort of lengthwise), you should be able to fit about 3 shrimp per skewer. Add them to the garlic-hoisin marinade as you work.
Cover and let them sit for 20 minutes, turning them over a few times to make sure the shrimp and skewers are evenly coated/moistened. Take this time to preheat your grill or grill pan (HIGH) on the stove top.
Once the grill pan is hot, reduce the heat to medium-low. (If you are cooking the shrimp skewers in an outdoor grill, the temperature should register between 275 and 325 degrees.) Cook for 2 to 3 minutes total, turning the skewers as needed, until the shrimp are just opaque and lightly charred. Transfer to a platter.
While the shrimp are cooking, melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove top. Finely chop the parsley or cilantro leaves.
Use the melted butter to brush the just-grilled shrimp, then scatter the fresh herbs on top. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the lemon and lime wedges.
The ingredients were too variable for a meaningful nutritional analysis.
(Adapted from a recipe at JessicaGavin.com.)