BBQ Spicy Shrimp

I’ve heard that there are finer things in this world than a BBQ but honestly, I’ve never come across them. Peace on earth? Yeah, maybe that might be better. A birthday where no one – I mean no one – gives you a pair of ‘novelty’ socks. Okay, that’s a contender too, but other than that, I’m stumped.

Why is a BBQ so great? Well, it involves fire + outdoors + adult beverages and – here’s the important bit – the risk that you could burn the living daylights out of dinner. I mean, think about it, everyone could start fighting over that rogue tortilla chip under the couch because you incinerated supper. Or – and this is probably worse – you undercook the food and give al dente a whole new meaning.

It’s kind of like Russian roulette but with friends and food. What’s not to like?

And it’s got drama and lots of smoke and the opportunity to really tick off your neighbors. I love it. And admit it, you do too. So mix up a batch of these spicy shrimp and enjoy the drama that is a barbecue. Don’t like shrimp? Use this marinade on chicken or a piece of salmon. It doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – you’re probably going to burn it anyway.

Kidding. Just kidding.

Serves 2 starving people, 3 normal humans, or 4 who are saving space for dessert

1 lb shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime, about 2-2 ½ Tbsp

½ tsp Chile de Arbol powder (Cayenne)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp olive oil + additional to brush the limes

½ tsp sea salt + additional for the limes

1 lime, cut into slices

Mix the tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, cayenne and turmeric powders, olive oil and sea salt. It should form a thick paste. Place the shrimp in a bowl and coat with the paste. Pop in the fridge and let them hang out for half an hour or so.

Get your grill heated up to medium-high. Brush the lime slices on both sides with the olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt. Place the shrimp on the grill and the lime too. You can use skewers but I think a good pair of tongs is your best friend. Grill until nicely seared on one side then flip and repeat. Shrimp cook fast – they only need a few minutes – so stay focused.

Fiery Finger Food

There’s finger food and there’s finger food. While you scratch your head, I’ll explain. Basically anything you eat with your hands – potato chips, sandwiches, an apple all the way up to those fussy canapés they serve at foo-foo-shee-shee cocktail parties is finger food, right? Yes, but I’m thinking of something a bit different.

photo 1

When I think of finger food – real finger food – I think of food you could eat with a fork and knife but don’t. We’re talking food that invites you to get messy. Take asparagus for example. Now you could be all hoity-toity and cut it with a fork and knife, but why bother? Isn’t it a whole lot more fun to pick that spear up, dunk it in a whole heap of hollandaise and chow down? Sure you’re going to get some on your shirt. Heck yea, someone is going to think you’re a barbarian. But do you care?

Now the key to my kind of finger food is eating it with like minded people. It’s a whole lot more fun if everyone is taking their clothes off when it’s time for skinny-dipping, isn’t it? You want people who aren’t afraid to walk – no, run – on the wild side. And it helps if they’re greedy. So choose your guest list carefully or if no one comes to mind then eat by yourself. Remember, you’re great company – honestly.

Here’s a recipe to get started. Fiery shrimp in the shell with Gazpacho Salsa. This recipe feeds two hungry people but you could double or triple it with no problems. Bring the shrimp fresh from the BBQ. Plop down a bowl of the salsa and dig in. Some tortillas and guacamole wouldn’t go amiss either. And if someone is looking particularly anxious about ripping off a bunch of shrimp shells then help them out – finger food aficionados weren’t made in a day.

Fiery Shrimp with a Gazpacho Salsa


This is easy-peasy. Enough said.

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 Chile Negro, rehydrated in boiling water for about 5 minutes until pliable
1 lb shrimp, shell-on
¼- ½ red onion, roughly chopped
½ red romano pepper (or bell pepper), roughly chopped
3-4 large plum tomatoes, stem end removed and roughly chopped
3-4 Tbsp breadcrumbs
2-3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil – half for the marinade and
half for the salsa

Remove the stem from the chile pepper. Place the chile and the garlic in the small bowl of a food processor. Don’t worry about removing the chile seeds – they’re mighty tasty. Pulse until a rough paste is formed. Add a bit of salt and mix again. Remove half the chile/garlic mixture and place it in a bowl with 1/8 cup olive oil. Mix and add the shrimp. Toss to coat. Set aside in the refrigerator to marinade – an hour or so is plenty of time.

Meanwhile, make the salsa. To the small bowl that has the remaining half of the chile/garlic mixture, add the roughly chopped tomatoes, onion, and pepper. Blitz until a thick puree is formed. Add the remaining 1/8 cup olive oil, vinegar and bread crumbs and pulse to mix. Taste and add salt as needed. Place in a serving bowl.

Fire up the BBQ. Remove the shrimp from the marinade and place on the hot BBQ. Cook for a minute or two until they begin to turn pink then turn and cook for another minute or so. Remove and place in a large serving platter or bowl and serve with the salsa. Lots of napkins and you’re good to go.