Saturday, March 17, 2012

I'm Burning, I'm Burning, I'm Burning For You

Just one?  Please?
Sriracha.  Shrimp.  Pineapple.  How can you go wrong with this combination?  These little morsels of goodness are so tasty that even my mother, who can taste – and exclaim over the heat of – the presence of a single speck of chili powder in a recipe, will eats them. Zoey probably would too, but I won't let her. For one, I don't want to learn what it's like when a toddler eats something way too spicy. Also, I'm afraid she'd like them too much and I just don't want to share.

I first made these for my best friend's 30th birthday party. I got the basic recipe from The Pioneer Woman (it's where I get a lot of my recipes – check it out for tasty good times!). The original recipe calls for stringing 5-6 shrimp on a skewer, but since the guest list was large and my wallet is not, I had to find a more economical way of making them without seeming like I was cheaping out.

I finally landed on the idea of putting a single shrimp on the skewer with a chunk of pineapple. Then I stuck the skewers in half-spheres of floral foam for presentation. It looked so nice, that I didn't take a picture. Not only did it look a little fancier, but the sweetness and acidity of the pineapple complements the spiciness of the shrimp nicely. Since then, I've made these for myself and for just about every party I've hosted or helped plan. I'm on standing orders to tell my dad when I make them. They really are that good. -

I start with a 2-lb bag of frozen shrimp. I generally try and find a bag that has about 50 shrimp/lb because that way I get more servings. Larger shrimp work well, but I find with these (especially if they're for a party) quantity counts, because they'll go fast!

Gooped up and ready to go!
After thawing and peeling the shrimp – which always takes at least twice as long as it feels like they should, and makes me wonder why I felt the need to make the full two pounds of shrimp – I add the goodies: Sriracha (which most people know as 'that hot sauce with the rooster on it'), garlic, sugar, and olive oil.

I generally just eyeball the measurements – a spoon or so of sugar, a couple heaping spoons of minced garlic (I always have a jar of the pre-minced stuff on hand), somewhere in the neighborhood of ¼ cup of olive oil, and about half a bottle of Sriracha, which is more than the original recipe calls for, but I prefer to have too much heat than not enough.

Dump it all into a large Ziploc bag and shake well to coat all the shrimp evenly. Then chuck the bag in the fridge for an hour or more to marinate. I usually let it sit overnight because I like to split up the labor on this – it's another one of those easy-but-repetitive recipes.

Once the shrimp have marinated, it's assembly time. Open three cans of pineapple chunks and put into a bowl for easy grabbing. If you are a kind parent, remember to drain off the juice for your darling daughter before you contaminate it with spicy shrimp juice. Get a good pile of toothpicks ready. Then add some more – you'll need them.

Lined up and ready to, broil!
Each toothpick gets one shrimp and one pineapple chunk. Repeat. Repeat again. Keep going until you wonder why in the world you decided the smaller shrimp were the best bet. Resist the temptation to rub your eyes. Keep going.

Once all of the shrimp are on the toothpicks (and any extra shrimp or pineapple are also skewered), it's time to cook them. These cook quickly – 2-3 minutes per side under the broiler or on the grill. I usually use the broiler just for simplicity's sake.

I never fail to eat one immediately and come to the conclusion that all of the tedium involved in making them was worth it and worry that maybe I didn't make enough. These are excellent when served hot. And chilled. They'd probably be good at some stage in the middle, but they won't last that long. Trust me on this; you won't have to worry about these sitting out too long and possibly spoiling. The biggest problem is making sure you don't put them out too early before people arrive. It's embarrassing to eat all the hors d'oeuvers before the guests even have a chance.
Seriously, make these today.  You won't regret it!
As far as party treats go, these aren't the cheapest, but they're far from the most expensive.  A bag of shrimp usually costs between $10-15, and the pineapple is around $1/can.  Keep your eyes open, though, because every so often the shrimp goes on sale and you can stock up.   The bag I used for this batch was only $8.

I've also made a small batch of these shrimp and sauteed them up to serve over pasta. It's delicious (and a fraction of the time investment), but not nearly as addicting and fun as the appetizers.

The original recipe:
1 pound large (16 to 20 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined.
2 tablespoons hot chili sauce (Sriracha is the best!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
4 to 5 cloves garlic, pressed
Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag, then add shrimp and marinate for 20 minutes to 2 hours. Skewer shrimp and grill until opaque and brown, with black bits.


  1. You could easily spend more than that on a fruit tray, or on cheese. Plus, they're pretty and impressive.

    Maybe sometime you could make a tame version ...

    1. A tame version? What is this nonsense? I could try it with Valentina hot sauce instead of Sriracha for you, I suppose. On a few shrimp. :)

    2. At least heat intolerance makes portion control easier!

  2. Can I put this on my pinterest board?