Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Three Finishing Sauces

Daniel J. van Ackere/America's Test Kitchen

To avoid the hassle of removing the shells, we went with peeled shrimp for our grilled shrimp recipe and then crammed them onto a skewer, which prevented them from overcooking. We took the shrimp off of the grill before they were completely cooked and finished cooking them in a heated sauce waiting on the cool side of the grill; this final simmer gave our broiled shrimp recipe tons of flavor.

The shrimp and sauce (see related recipes) finish cooking together on the grill, so prepare the sauce ingredients while the coals are heating, then carry them out to the grill with you. To fit all of the shrimp on the cooking grate at once, you’ll need three 14-inch metal skewers. (Wooden skewers will likely burn.) Serve with grilled crusty bread brushed with olive oil as an appetizer; add rice salad or couscous for a main course.

[Ed. note: Host Francis Lam talks with Doc Willoughby from America's Test Kitchen about finishing grilled shrimp with sauce (versus marinading them beforehand) in their interview about busted food myths.]

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined, tails left on
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil for brushing skewers
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 recipe Spicy Lemon-Garlic Sauce, Charmoula Sauce, or Fresh Tomato Sauce with Feta and Olives (see recipes below)
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Directions

1. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Thread shrimp onto 3 skewers, alternating direction of heads and tails. Brush both sides of shrimp with oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle one side of each skewer with sugar.

2. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal (6 quarts, or about 100 briquettes) and allow to burn until coals are fully ignited and partially covered with thin layer of ash, about 20 minutes. Empty coals into grill; build modified two-level fire by arranging coals to cover one-half of grill, piling them about 3 briquettes high, leaving other half empty. Position cooking grate over coals, cover grill, and heat until hot, about 5 minutes; scrape grate clean with grill brush.

3. Set disposable aluminum pie plate with sauce ingredients over hot side of grill and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 1 1/2  minutes; transfer plate to cooler side of grill. Place shrimp skewers, sugared sides down, on hot side of grate; use tongs to push shrimp together on skewer if they have separated. Grill shrimp, uncovered, until lightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, flip and grill until second side is pink and slightly translucent, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

4. Using potholder or oven mitt, carefully lift each skewer from grill; use tongs to slide shrimp off skewers into pie plate with sauce. Toss shrimp and sauce to combine and transfer pie plate to hot side of grill; cook, stirring, until shrimp are opaque and fully cooked, about 30 seconds. Remove from grill, add remaining sauce ingredients and toss to combine. Transfer to serving platter and serve immediately with lemon wedges.

* * *

Spicy Lemon-Garlic Sauce for Shrimp Skewers

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, from 2 lemons
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • Disposable 10-inch aluminum pie plate
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Directions

Combine butter, lemon juice, pepper flakes, garlic, and salt in pan. Cook over hot side of grill, stirring occasionally, until butter melts, about 1 1/2 minutes; transfer to cooler side of grill and proceed to grill shrimp, adding parsley just before serving.

* * *

Charmoula Sauce for Shrimp Skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced very small (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • Disposable 10-inch aluminum pie plate
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon

Directions

Combine oil, bell pepper, onion, paprika, cumin, cayenne, garlic, and salt in pan. Cook over hot side of grill, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes (2 or 3 minutes longer if using gas grill); transfer to cooler side of grill and proceed to grill shrimp, adding cilantro and lemon juice just before serving.

* * *

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Feta and Olives for Grilled Shrimp Skewers

Ingredients

  • Disposable 10-inch aluminum pie plate
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large ripe tomato, cored, seeded, and diced very small
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 ounces feta cheese (about 1 cup), crumbled into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped fine
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced very thin

Directions

1. Combine oil, tomato, salt, and oregano in pie plate. Set aluminum pie plate with sauce over hot side of grill and cook, stirring occasionally, until hot (about 1 1/2 minutes); transfer to cool side of the grill if using a charcoal grill or set aside off heat if using a gas grill.

2. Proceed to grill shrimp as directed, adding lemon juice, feta, olives, and scallions just before serving.

    • The road to Samarkand

      The city of Samarkand is on the storied Silk Road, but off the beaten path for many tourists. Caroline Eden and Eleanor Ford make the case for the ancient Uzbek city's food and culture in their new book, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & The Caucasus. They spoke with Lynne Rossetto Kasper about it.

    Top Recipes

    Breaking Southern food stereotypes with chef Edouardo Jordan of Junebaby

    Chef Edouardo Jordan takes Southern food to a new level, highlighting Southern ingredients and tradition at his Seattle restaurant, Junebaby. Host Francis Lam talked with Jordan about his deep research into Southern cooking, and what it means to present Southern cuisine in the opposite corner of the country.