Adapted from BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing Company, 2003).
It takes only about ten minutes to prepare these colorful shrimp kebabs, but the flavor is electrifying. The first jolt comes from jalapeno peppers—lots of them—and it's followed by aromatic blasts of cilantro, scallion, and cumin, flavorings that are typical of grilling in the Southwest.
You've probably noticed that shrimp have a tendency to dry out when grilled, even after they've been marinated. To remedy this problem, I baste the shrimp with garlic butter as they grill.
Advance Preparation: 30 minutes for marinating the shrimp
You'll also need:
About 12 long (10- to 12-inch) metal or bamboo skewers
1. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and then drain and blot them dry with paper towels. Peel and devein the shrimp. Thread the shrimp onto 2 parallel skewers, using 2 skewers for each kebab. Arrange the kebabs in a nonreactive baking dish.
2. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the cilantro for the garlic cilantro butter. Place the remaining cilantro, the jalapenos, scallions, chopped garlic, salt, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor and finely chop. With the machine running, add the olive oil and lime juice through the feed tube and purée to a bright green paste. Pour this marinade over the shrimp and let them marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes, turning the kebabs several times so they marinate evenly.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the 3 tablespoons of reserved cilantro and cook until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Keep the garlic cilantro butter warm until ready to use.
4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.
5. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the marinade from the shrimp kebabs and discard the marinade. Place the shrimp kebabs on the hot grate and grill until just cooked through, 1 to 3 minutes per side, basting with the garlic cilantro butter. When done, the shrimp will turn pinkish white and feel firm to the touch. Transfer the grilled shrimp to a platter or plates, pour any of the remaining butter sauce over them, and serve with the lime wedges.
Darra Goldstein is editor in chief of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, an 888-page reference guide to all things sweet. "The book is really a compendium of human desires, a cultural history of desire for things that are sweet and what it has caused in the world, in both the realm of pleasure and also of pain," she says.