Whether it’s Paella or Cioppino, one sure way to impress a table of guests is to bring out a platter of whole seafood. These grilled whole shrimp are no exception. Seasoned with garlic, smoked paprika and olive oil before being grilled, they’re finished with a sauce made of oil-roasted almonds.
Briny, nutty and sweet, with a satisfying crunch, this grilled shrimp has an array of complementary flavors and contrasting textures that will keep you reaching back for more. Aside from presenting well, It’s great for dinner parties because you can prep the shrimp ahead of time, leaving you with only a few minutes of grilling before the shrimp can be served.
By frying the almonds until they’re golden brown, they release a marvelously nutty flavor into the oil, which pairs well with the sweet, smoky shrimp. I like the rustic look and crunchy texture of lightly crushing them with a rolling pin, but if you want the dish to look more refined you can chop them into more uniform-sized pieces.
If you can’t find good head-on shrimp, or don’t care about the presentation, you can make this with fully shelled shrimp and it will taste almost as good. If you’ve put your grill away for the year, you can also “grill” the shrimp on a wire rack in an oven set to broil.
Grilled Almond Shrimp
- 800 grams head-on shrimp
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 14 grams garlic (2 large cloves) grated
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 65 grams almonds, crushed
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- To prepare the shrimp, remove the legs along the body section and then peel the shell off the body section of the shrimp, being careful not to remove the head or the tail.
- There is a vein running along the back-side (side opposite the legs) of the shrimp that can contain grit, so you’ll want to remove it. You can do this by either slicing the shrimp open along the back from head to tail and then removing it, or if you want to keep the shape of the shrimp intact, you can use a toothpick to dig into the tail side of the shrimp and use it to cut the vein. Then insert the toothpick into the back of the shrimp towards the head and dig up the vein. You should now be able to draw the vein out by pulling on it.
- Because the shrimp is basically a giant muscle that will contract when cooked it will tend to curl. If you want to keep the shrimp from curling, you need to make a row of small incisions about 1/4-inch apart along the belly side of the shrimp (where the legs were) from the head to the tail.
- To marinate the shrimp, stir together the olive oil, paprika and grated garlic and pour this over the prepared shrimp.
- To grill the shrimp heat a grill, grill pan, or broiler until hot and lay the shrimp on the grill. Cook until the body of the shrimp is opaque and there’s juices bubbling out of the head.
- While the shrimp are on the grill, put the olive oil, almonds and salt in a small pan and fry the almonds in the oil until golden brown. Add the parsley and when the shrimp are done, pour the mixture over them. Because there is a fine line between toasty and burnt, if the almonds look ready before the shrimp are done, pour the almonds and oil into a bowl to keep them from burning.
Yield: 4 servings
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.