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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Summer Grilling: Skewered Shrimps & Cherry Tomatoes

Festive enough for a party, quick-and-easy for everyday cooking, skewered shrimp and cherry tomatoes are ready to serve in 30 minutes.

A few words about the convenience of shrimp. In my experience, shrimp that come already shelled and deveined have less flavor and are more susceptible to freezer burn. If you buy shrimp in the shell, the benefits outweigh the added work. Buy the large sized ones (30-35/pound).

Removing the shell is easy enough, if a bit tedious. Grasp the legs in one hand while you rotate the shrimp with your other hand. The shell will come off easily. If you want the tail meat to stay on the shrimp, pinch the very tip of the tail with your fingers and gently pull the meat away from the shell.

With a sharp paring knife, cut down the back of the shrimp, pull away the vein, and discard. Wash the shrimp thoroughly, drain, and keep cold until ready to use.

Save the shells. Put them in a pan with a 1/2 cup water and simmer 10 minutes. Strain and discard the shells. Use the stock to make pasta sauce. To save for later use, freeze the shrimp stock in an airtight container. If any ice crystals accumulate on the stock, while still frozen, wash the crystals off with cold water before defrosting.

To freeze shrimp without fear of freezer burn, toss the deveined shrimp in olive oil, seasoned with sea salt and pepper. Place in a Ziploc-style plastic bag, squeeze out the air, and seal tightly. Flatten out the bag so the shrimp lay next to each other so they'll freeze individually. That way you can remove a few of the shrimp at a time. Lay flat in the freezer.

Skewered Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes are plentiful in the summer. Grilled, their sweetness is accentuated.

Yield 4 servings

Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

1 basket cherry tomatoes, washed, stems removed
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water at least 1 hour before grilling. Toss the tomatoes in the seasoned olive oil to coat well. Place 3-4 tomatoes on each skewer. Reserve the seasoned olive oil for later use.

Grill the tomatoes on a hot grill, turning frequently to prevent burning. They're cooked when the skin splits. Serve while hot.

Use any left-over tomatoes in a pasta or in a mozzarella-tomato salad.

Grilled Shrimp

Shrimp are naturally sweet and flavorful. Seasoned in a wet marinade or dry rub is all they need. If you're using wooden skewers, soak them in water at least 1 hour before grilling.

Grilled Shrimp with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Pepper Marinade

Yield 4-6 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, washed, deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Method

Toss the shrimp in the seasoned olive oil, place 3-4 shrimp on each skewer and cook on a hot grill, turning frequently to avoid burning. Cook until the shrimp are lightly charred.

If a grill isn't available, the shrimp can be cooked in a 450 degree oven, preferably resting on a wire rack over an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet.

Grilled Shrimp with a Garlic-Ginger-Soy Marinade

Yield 4-6 servings

Time 30 minutes plus 1 hour marinade

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, washed, shelled, deveined
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled, grated
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, cut into shrimp-size pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 scallion, washed, thinly sliced, white and green parts
1 teaspoon roasted sesame seeds

Method

Mix together all ingredients and marinate the shrimp for an hour but no more. Any longer and the shrimp will absorb too much of the marinade.

Put 3-4 shrimp on each skewer with a single piece of onion between each shrimp and cook on a hot grill, turning frequently to avoid burning. Cook until the shrimp are lightly charred. If a grill isn't available, the shrimp can be cooked in a 450 degree oven, preferably resting on a wire rack.

Grilled Shrimp with a Tex-Mex Dry Rub

Yield 4-6 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 pound shrimp, washed, deveined
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled, grated
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon beer

Mix the dry ingredients together. Toss the shrimp first in the beer and then with the dry rub.

Put 3-4 shrimp on each skewer and cook on a hot grill, turning frequently to avoid burning. Cook until the shrimp are lightly charred. If a grill isn't available, the shrimp can be cooked in a 450 degree oven, preferably resting on a wire rack.

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