Fiery Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple and Mint

I can be a bit stubborn and headstrong sometimes.  Buying the star ingredient for this recipe was, sadly, one of those times.  It was about 2pm on a weekend and Mike and I were buying (mass quantities of) some supplies at Costco.  I will freely admit that I often don’t see that much advantage in the Costco prices for a lot of things, the shopping-cart-traffic-jams fill me with a rage the likes of which you have never seen before, and I’m never impressed with the variety, but…..I really, REALLY love the samples.  Even the awful ones.  So there we were at Costco and I went to buy some shrimp for the skewers.  The fresh shrimp was a good size and colour but also $22 for the flat of about 30 shrimp.  So, Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it’s off to FROZEN we go!!! 

The shrimp in the frozen section was alright, but still a bit on the expensive side.  I was looking for shrimp that were about 21 – 30, or thereabouts (not huge but definitely not small), and what they had was covered in ice chips, possibly freezer burnt, and still a bit more than I’m used to paying.  Since we needed a few other ingredients that Costco didn’t have (or we didn’t want 28 lbs of) I figured that’s fine since we would be stopping at another supermarket on the way home…..

….which we did, and they didn’t have any uncooked shrimp.  I’m not kidding.  What kind of a supermarket DOESN’T HAVE SHRIMP?!  By now it’s about 3:30 pm…..

……….so we went to a third supermarket, where I might have thrown a bit of a tantrum, grabbed Mike by the arm and dragged him out of there saying that I absolutively and posolutely REFUSED to pay that much for shrimp ($12.99 for 500g of 31-40!  $18.99 for 500g of 16 – 20!!  Are you KIDDING me?!), and I know we can get the same or better quality at the local No Frills by my parent’s house, and I’m so appalled and disgusted that it is imperative that we leave IMMEDIATELY and I might have to rethink shopping at this store in the future, ever again. 

We (read:  I) stormed through the parking lot with an aura of disgust and disapproval pulsing through the air around us, and got back into the car to go to Grocery Store # 4.  Poor Mike’s comment that, “It’s just…maybe we want to think through this a bit more….I mean, are we REALLY going to be saving a significant sum of money on the shrimp, after we’ve been driving around from store to store?  It’s just that the gas – ”  <- that’s where he was silenced by my Most Malevolent Look. 

The No Frills that I like to get my seafood at is by my parent’s house, and not particularly far away.  The store caters to a largely Asian clientele, which I enjoy because I get a lot of variety in my meat and seafood for reasonable prices, and there is an abundance of interesting or entertaining ingredients to try such  as this one.  So at about 4:30 pm, an hour and a half until close, we swept into the No Frills where I briskly marched up to the seafood counter and there, sparkling with an icy goodness from the seafood freezers, were bags upon bags of gorgeous 21-30 size shrimp at $4.99 for a 500 g bag.  I was practically CROWING with smug delight as I flung a couple of bags into our cart, and even Mike admitted that MAYBE it was worth the drive after all.  Even if it WAS two and a half hours of seafood shopping and four stores later………no bitterness…….

Oh! I forgot to mention – if you didn’t know what in god’s name I was talking about when I said ’21- 30′ or ’16 – 20′, that refers to the size of the shrimp.  To reduce confusion, and because everyone has different perception of what is a large size shrimp versus an extra-large size shrimp, there is a standard system of measurement which refers, basically, to shrimp per pound.  Therefore, if you have shrimp that are ’21 – 30′ you can expect to get roughly 21 to 30 little guys in 1 pound.  If you want to think of it visually, I would consider those to be large size shrimp but not impressively large, mammoth and ginormous size shrimp

Fiery Shrimp Skewers with Pineapple and Mint

Serves:  4 hungry people

Preparation time:  15 minutes prep + 30 minutes marinate + 15 minutes to skewer and barbecue…so about an hour……

  •  approximately 1 kg of raw shrimp, or 2 bags of about 500 g each
  • 2 lemons 
  • 1/2 orange 
  • big handful of fresh mint
  • four cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • small handful of fresh basil and/or oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

and for the skewers,

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 orange pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 pineapple

Let’s start by making the marinade for the shrimp.  No, I lied to you.  Let’s start by defrosting the shrimp if you were using frozen!  Please make sure that the shrimp is completely thawed because if it’s still frozen in the middle you won’t be too happy when you cook it.  Okay, now let’s get back to the marinade….

Pour the olive oil into a medium sized bowl.  Don’t you just have a zest for life?  Good, now let’s get some zest of lemon and orange.  Oh, believe me I know, I’m ashamed of that one myself.  Ahem, back to the recipe…into the bowl goes the zest of an entire lemon and half an orange.  While you’re there, also rasp in (or finely mince) your 4 cloves of garlic.

Squeeze in the juice of both lemons and half of an orange.  Sprinkle in your red pepper flakes.  This is what it will look like when you give it a stir.

That’s a lot of zest, I know!  But it’s delicious.  Now onto your herbs.  Ooh, look at those fresh and lovely herbs!  That’s a big handful of mint, a small handful of basil, and a couple sprigs of oregano.  You can just use mint, but I like to throw in a bit of whatever else I have on hand.

Mince it up finely and get depressed about how your glorious plethora of fresh herbs has been reduced to a pitiful few tablespoons.

Throw them into the marinade and give it another quick stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now you’re ready for the shrimp!  Peel the shrimp but make sure to leave the tails on.  They give you something to grab onto when you’re eating it as well as looking lovely!  If your shrimp have not had that ugly vein in the back removed, take that out as well.  Nobody likes varicose shrimp.  Pour the marinade onto the shrimp and leave it to sit in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.

If you are using wooden skewers, put them into a cold water bath to soak while the shrimp is marinating. This is about a half hour and it will help them to not to burn (as much) when they hit the barbecue.

While the shrimp is marinating and your skewers are soaking, it’s a good time to cut up your veggies for the kebabs.  Try to make them roughly the same size, about 1 inch chunks for the peppers and onions, and 1/2 – 3/4 inch chunks for the zucchini.  

Remember that kebabs are incredibly versatile.  If you don’t like any of the vegetables, just don’t use them and supplement with something else.  To make the skewers, thread a few slices of veggie onto your wooden stick and then grab 2 shrimp.  Hold the shrimp with one hand so that they are nestled into a yin yang shape, like so:

Finish off the skewer, and don’t forget a few chunks of pineapple.  Can you see how to position the shrimp better in this picture?

…and the rest of the skewers.  There should be about 4 shrimp per skewer.

Your barbecue should be on about a medium heat, but shrimp skewers are very forgiving.  They really don’t take long to cook, but please don’t over cook them!!  The shrimp are ready when they turn pink and opaque, plain and simple.  If they are slightly translucent in places or still a bit grey, give them another minute.  Plate up the cooked product, and you’re done!

Now these look goooood.  

Music to cook to:  Girl from Impanema by Stan Getz and Gilberto



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  • Jason

    Wonderful recipe! I was thinking about going more the Mexican route, so used the zest and peel from a couple limes, and a big handful of cilantro too. Wonderful final effect that was a big hit at a BBQ get-together with friends. Really, the colors and flavors just scream sunshine : )