Here’s a fun, clean South Beach dish that I created for the BubbleQ in 2009. It’s nice as an appetizer or as a main course for lunch. Grilling in the shells intensifies the shrimp’s favors, while protecting them from the intensity of harsh heat. These babies are moist, plump, and delicious, and the Scotch bonnet adds a hot fruity kick, mellowed somewhat by the sugar. Serve them with sliced sweet ripe mango and a peppery arugula salad: hot, sweet, and spicy make a great hot-weather combination.
8 cups water
¼ cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
8 cloves garlic, grated on a Microplane
3 cups ice cubes
24 jumbo shrimp, shells on, back split and vein removed
HOT PEPPER DRIZZLE
1 cup water
⅓ cup canola or vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
Juice of 1 lime
3 Scotch bonnet or habañero chiles, seeds removed, chopped (careful—these peppers are extremely hot)
Canola or vegetable oil, for brushing
Dressing (recipe follows)
FOR THE BRINE
In a large bowl, combine the water, salt, sugar, lemon juice, and garlic. Add the ice and mix well. Add the shrimp and let brine in the refrigerator or at room temperature for 1 hour.
FOR THE HOT PEPPER DRIZZLE
Combine the water, oil, sugar, lime juice, and chiles in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand blender. Set aside.
TO COOK THE SHRIMP
Heat a grill to medium.
Drain the shrimp; discard the brine. Brush the shrimp with some oil. Grill over direct heat for about 5 minutes on each side.
Remove the shrimp from the grill and immediately place them in a bowl with the dressing. Toss, place on a platter, and drizzle to your heat tolerance with the Hot Pepper Drizzle.
MAKES ABOUT 1¼ CUPS
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped scallions, white and tender green parts
Juice of 2 lemons
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a bowl, combine the oil, cilantro, bell pepper, scallions, lemon juice, zest, and chives. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.