It may be “Labor” Day weekend, but when summer is coming to a close the last thing we want to do is heavy work in the kitchen. Nope, we want quick, easy and tasty dishes for the grill. We want to maximize our outside time with friends, eat good food and perhaps enjoy a few tasty beverages (a
nd whine that real live starts again). But what if we want to go beyond the standard burgers and hot dogs? Enter satay, the Southeast Asian staple of some kind of protein on a stick cooked over a hot fire. Meat..Stick.. Fire….Yumm….More????
We aren’t sure were we first tried this dish, also called Satay Udang, but it was one of those dishes were we immediately said, “we gotta make this at home”. There are all sorts of shrimp satay, but this version uses a sweet and spicy marinade most often associated with Singapore street food, and if you say “Singapore”and “street food” you will get our immediate culinary attention. (FYI, Singapore created food courts just for street food vendors to control sanitation…..and just maybe tax revenue.)
The key to this dish is a spicy marinade with aromatics, coconut milk, hot peppers and a surprise element of crushed macadamia nuts. The nuts are ground so they don’t add crunch, but they do lend a surprising richness to the shrimp that augments the coconut milk. The other slight surprise is a four-hour marinating time, as most fish marinades are under an hour, but in this case the shrimp handle the marinade just fine.
We found this recipe at Saveur but did make a few changes. Firstly the original recipe calls for three Thai Bird chiles. Thai’s run at 50k to 100k Scoville units and are very hot. If you like spice, but don’t love it, we suggest Cayennes at about 30k or Serranos at 15k. These peppers are still spicy and taste great, but won’t blow your head off. (As it is, don’t breathe too deeply or touch your eyes while making the marinade…trust us on this one.) Secondly, we added some extra coconut milk to mellow the spice a bit more, but you can add less if you like.
Otherwise, putting this dish together is easy. Process the aromatics and peppers, cook them with the coconut milk, chill the mixture, add the shrimp and marinate for 4 hours. Then skewer the shrimp and cook over a hot fire. The cooking mellows the heat of the chiles and what you get are beautiful charred shrimp with a perfect mix of sweet and spice with just a bit of crunch. Good stuff and a nice change of pace for the holiday. Have fun this weekend!
(Adapted from Saveur)
Notes Before You Start:
- The size and heat of chiles vary. Thai Bird chiles tend to be small, Serranos medium and Cayennes larger. The original recipe wants three Thai chiles, we used one Cayenne and would suggest two Serranos. Err on the side of less spice, you can always add it later.
- The recipe also calls for Kaffir lime leaves. If you don’t have the leaves, the zest of a few limes can substitute.
What You Get: Very flavorful shrimp that work as a snack, with rice or in tacos.
What You Need: A hot fire.
How Long? About 4 and a half hours, but only about 15 minutes of active time. The only thing you have to do is wait on the marinade. Weekend dish.
(makes 30-40 shrimp)
- 1½ pounds. (30-40) medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- ½ cup chopped shallots
- 1½ tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 Kaffir lime leaves, stemmed
- 5 macadamia nuts
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 Cayenne pepper , stemmed
- 1 3-inch piece ginger, chopped
- 3 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- In a bowl, toss shrimp and lime juice; chill in the fridge.
- Puree shallots, sugar, salt, lime leaves, nuts, garlic, chiles, and ginger in a small food processor or with an immersion blender. Turn on the kitchen fan, if you have one.
- Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat; add paste. Cook, stirring, until oil separates from paste, 3–4 minutes. Stir in coconut milk. Cool. Stir into shrimp. Chill 4 hours in the fridge.
- Build a hot charcoal fire in a grill. Thread shrimp on skewers. Spoon a little extra marinade over shrimp; grill, turning, until charred, 3–5 minutes. Serve.
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