Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grilled Shrimp Cocktail with Cajun Spices (Bbq dishes, part one of three)

August has been quite a busy month for my fiance and I--whew! We took an amazing 8 day, 7 night trip to London and Paris toward the end of the month which required planning, packing and working extra hours to make up for our absences. Sadly, I didn't find a lot of time to experiment in the kitchen, although I am sitting on material for yet another blog post (apart from the three promised in this series), a pasta dish with shrimp, which I'll be posting after this series. In between preparing for the trip, fighting a month-long sickness and studying for round two of the GREs, I've sadly been too busy to blog. All that is about to change, starting with an impressive, delicious appetizer that nevertheless is super simple to prepare! Yesterday I had a serious craving for shrimp cocktail. I knew I'd be grilling the main course for the dinner, so I thought why not grill my shrimp for the cocktail as well? Taking this idea to its *logical* conclusion I decided to also brush my shrimp skewers with butter, lemon juice and cajun spices...mmm! I used a store bought cocktail sauce, but making your own is quite easy with lemon juice, tomato paste and horseradish. I used my trusty mandoline to slice my lemon slices to make my skewers look nice, but you can easily do without and slice them by hand. I love my cheap-o mandoline, however, and I'd absolutely recommend getting one if you slice a lot of foods. Either way you'll wow your loved ones and guests with this simple variation of an old classic.

Cajun Spiced Grilled Shrimp Cocktail

For the skewers:

1/2 pound white or pink shrimp (I used white and I love their slightly sweet flavor)
1 large lemon, sliced into thin rounds (see photo)
3 - 5 small bamboo skewers

For the "rub":

1/4 teasp. cayenne pepper (or more to taste, but be careful, as it is very spicy)
1/2 teasp. smoked paprika
1 1/2 tblsp. butter
1/2 bayleaf, crumbled
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 large lemon


1. De-vein shrimps, keeping them in the shell by using your paring knife to cut through the back of the shrimp and scrape out the vein.

2. Assemble the skewers by piercing a lemon slice in two places across the diameter of the slice (see photo), then sliding two shrimp on, then another lemon slice pierced in the same manner, then two more shrimps. Continue assembling skewers until all the shrimps are on skewers.

3. If you're making your own cocktail sauce, now would be the time to put it together. If not, melt the butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Add cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper and crumbled bayleaf and allow aromatics 5 minutes or so to marry flavors. Turn off heat and mix in lemon juice.

4. Allow to cool slightly, then pour over shrimp. Use a pastry brush to ensure spice rub gets into all the areas between shell segments and at the head opening, etc.

5. Allow to cook on the grill over direct heat for 2 - 3 minutes, then turn skewers and cook for 2 - 3 minutes more, or until shrimp have turned a pale pink all over and have lost their glossy translucence.

6. Serve alongside cocktail sauce, peel and enjoy.

I hope you enjoyed this recipe and I welcome your feedback.

Part 2: Beer, onion and pork fat relish for all of your grilled hot dogs, sausages and burgers.