This recipe for spicy grilled shrimp from the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living is meant to be an appetizer, but I thought it looked so good I served it as a entree. The sauce is a wonderful combination of sweet-tart flavours, with a blast of heat. In this recipe, half of the sauce is brushed on the shrimp during grilling and half is reserved for dipping. It was so good, we plan to try it with our next batch of chicken wings.

The recipe calls for Asian chili paste such as sambal oelek, which is off-limits in our house because it contains numerous chemical additives and preservatives. Sambal oelek is essentially a paste of hot peppers and vinegar, so I improvised by dissolving a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a tablespoon of Tabasco sauce. It worked perfectly. To avoid additives and preservatives, use only fresh lime juice and a fish sauce with all-natural ingredients, such as Thai Kitchen brand.

The arugula we are growing on our deck is at its peak right now, so I served the shrimp with a salad of arugula, toasted almonds and shavings of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, tossed with a lemon-balsamic dressing. The recipe is in the June issue of Everyday Food. Steamed rice on the side soaked up the delicious sauce.

Spicy Grilled Shrimp


For the sauce (makes ¾ cup)

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes)

1 tablespoon Asian chili paste (such as sambal oelek)

1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce

Coarse salt

For the shrimp

Safflower oil, for brushing

36 large shrimp (about 3 pounds), peeled and deveined (tails left intact; optional)

Coarse salt


Soak 12 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes to prevent charring.  Meanwhile, make the sauce: Bring sugar and lime juice to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in lime zest, chili paste, and fish sauce. Season with salt.  Make the shrimp: Heat grill to high. Brush grates with oil. Thread 3 shrimp onto each skewer; season with salt. Divide sauce in half; reserve half for serving. Grill shrimp for 1 minute; brush with sauce. Flip, and grill for 1 minute more; brush with sauce again. Flip, and grill, brushing occasionally with sauce, until opaque, 1 to 3 minutes more. Serve with reserved sauce. Makes 12 appetizer servings.

From the June 2010 issue of Martha Stewart Living