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Garlic-and-pepper grilled shrimp with kumquats


24 large shrimp in the shell

1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1 tablespoon tricolor peppercorns

1 head garlic, separated into cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla)

8 bamboo skewers, soaked in water 30 minutes, then dried

8 kumquats, sliced crosswise in half and seeded

Vegetable oil spray

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 to 3 serrano chilies, slivered

Makes 8 skewers.

Pull off the legs of the shrimp. Using scissors, cut the shells open down the back without removing them. Remove the dark vein from each shrimp and rinse the shrimp in cool water. Put the shrimp in a strainer, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the salt over them, and massage lightly; let sit 5 to 10 minutes.

Rinse the shrimp again with cool water and pat dry with paper towels; set aside.

Put the peppercorns in a small skillet and dry-roast over medium-high heat, sliding the skillet back and forth to prevent burning, until the peppercorns exude a pleasant aroma, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl; let cool. Grind the peppercorns in a spice grinder; set aside.

Combine garlic, cilantro, sugar, fish sauce, pepper- corns and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl; mix well. Add shrimp and toss. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Mound the charcoal in one side of the grill, leaving the other side empty, and heat the grill.

While waiting for the grill to get hot, remove the shrimp from the refrigerator. Remove the shrimp from the marinade, shaking off the excess and set the marinade aside. Thread a shrimp lengthwise onto a bamboo skewer, from the head and through the tail, then thread a sliced kumquat onto the skewer next to the shrimp. Repeat, alternating shrimp and kumquat halves.

Generously spray the shrimp with vegetable oil and lay the skewers on the grill over medium-low heat. (The uncovered portion of the skewers should not be over the coals.) Grill, turning frequently to prevent burning, until the shells are slightly charred and crispy and the shrimp are pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Heat the vegetable oil in skillet over high heat 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved marinade and the chilies and stir constantly until the garlic turns golden, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Remove the shrimp and kumquats from the skewers and place on a platter. Pour sauce over them and serve.

Nutritional information per skewer: 173 calories (36 percent from fat), 7 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 130 milligrams cholesterol, 9 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein, 894 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.