Friday, December 28, 2007

Seven Seafoods 2007: Recipe for Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp (Γαρίδες με Πικάντικο Πέστο)

Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp was on our 1993 Christmas Eve menu. My recipe notes from that year conclude, “Extraordinary! Very very good!!!”

Once I found the notes, I had to include Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp on our 2007 menu. I couldn’t ignore those exuberant exclamation marks.

This extremely flavorful dish is simple to put together and cooks quickly. As with many of my favorite foods, it is a little messy to eat. We started out with cloth napkins and quickly shifted to a combination of paper towels and licking our fingers and lips.

Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp tastes best when cooked on an outside grill, but it’s also very tasty when cooked inside on a very hot cast iron grill pan. Since it was cold and snowy here this Christmas Eve, we wanted to stay inside where we were warm and cozy beside our burning Yule Log. I opted for the grill pan.

In 2007, as in 1993, we agreed Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp was “Extraordinary! Very very good!!!”

Spicy Pesto Grilled ShrimpSpicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp (Γαρίδες με Πικάντικο Πέστο)
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 for appetizers
As you peel the grilled shrimp, your fingers will get covered with pesto which transfers to and flavors the sweet meat of the shrimp. If you prefer a stronger pesto flavor on the shrimp, cut open each shell down the back of the body only; be sure to rub pesto into the openings. For extra flavor, don’t forget to suck the heads. This dish should be spicy. Since the heat in jalapeños and serranos can vary from mild to very hot, be sure and taste the peppers as you are mixing the pesto. If your peppers are mild, mix in a teaspoon (or more, to suit your taste) of sambal oelek (ground red chiles).

1 pound head-on, shell-on shrimp
2 Tbsp. minced ginger
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. minced jalapeño or serrano peppers
1/4 cup minced Thai or sweet basil
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. sherry
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
3 Tbsp. olive or peanut oil

Wash the shrimp and dry them well. If desired, cut the shrimp shell down the back on the body only; do not remove the shell. Put the shrimp in a bowl.

Put the ginger, garlic, peppers, basil, salt, pepper, sherry, sesame oil, and olive oil in a blender or small food processor and puree to form a pesto. Scrape down the sides of the blender and puree again.

Thoroughly mix the pesto into the shrimp. I prefer doing this with my hands to make sure the pesto goes into all the shrimps’ nooks and crannies. Marinate the shrimp for 1 – 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Grill the shrimp on an outside grill or on a cast iron grill pan that has been preheated until it is white hot. Shrimp cook very quickly; depending on their size, they will be done after being on the grill for 2 – 3 minutes per side.

Serve with crusty bread and plenty of napkins.


pam said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I love shrimp and I love pesto, and this looks fabulous!

Peter M said...

Great shrimp plate and I love peeling the shrimp (and subsequently licking my fingers).

Laurie Constantino said...

Pam, you are most welcome -- they are really tasty.

Peter, yep, licking your fingers is an essential part of this dish!

Unknown said...

The 7 seafoods of 2007 is making me hungry! There are shrimp like this that are similar as yours from the southern coast of China. They have ginger, garlic, peppers, salt, pepper, and sesame oil and then wok cooked. I love shrimp like that. What do you think? Greeks and Chinese have great food or what?

test it comm said...

The shrimp look good and the pesto sounds tasty. I have never cooked shrimp with the shells on. I normally take them off just before cooking. I will have to try leaving them on.

Laurie Constantino said...

Lennae, as a general proposition I completely agree that the Chinese and Greeks have great food. I should say this is not Greek but just something I made up! I translate the name into Greek even when the recipes aren't because my blog posts are automatically posted on a Greek Bloggers feed. I want the Greek-speakers to have some idea what I'm posting about. Wok cooking shrimp with the spices you list sounds very similar and very delicious. Now I want some!

Kevin, I take the shell off if I am, for example, sauteeing shrimp. But when I am subjecting the shrimp to the high temperature of a grill, I always leave the shells on because they protect the shrimp meat from drying out. I also leave the shells on when I boil shrimp -- why should I do all the shelling work? The eaters should also have the fun of peeling their food. I've never had anyone object.