It’s that time of year. School is winding down, graduation parties are kicking in, bbq’s are getting into gear. And we all stand in our kitchens, scratching our heads about what to contribute to all those potluck parties etched in our calendars. Right here is a recipe that you’ll kiss me for. This cilantro shrimp appy from some old issue of Gourmet (may she RIP) is not only super delicious and makes everyone believe you’re a genius cook. It’s got all the right elements that make it perfect for a party bring with. It’s a snap to make (so you can devote more time to putting on your false eyelashes). It feels a little special, since pink little crustaceans are in the picture. It’s waistline friendly, since it doesn’t have all the mayo, sour cream and other artery busters that plague most party appetizer platters. And it can be served warm or at room temp, so you can make it at home, dump it onto a pretty dish when you arrive, and let it sit out on the table ‘til the last little shrimp vanishes. Don’t count on that taking too long, mind you. I don’t call this dish Gone Light Lightning Cilantro Shrimp for nothing. For the first dozen times I made this, I think I got to taste about three. Most of the time, they disappeared before I got my coat off. My kids actually love these shrimp so much that I am perpetually slapping their hands while I’m cooking to stop them from snitching. I stave off a full fledged mutiny by making this dish even when there isn’t a party. To stretch it from appy to main course, I whip up the recipe, then pour out the shrimp and some sauce onto a pile of angel hair pasta or thin rice noodles, toss it all up and holler “dinner!” Problem solved. Note: The original recipe calls for 1 pound of shrimp but that is a lot of work for such a skimpy output of food. I’ve found that the marinade can easily accommodate two pounds of shrimp or perhaps a bit more. You can also use half the marinade for one pound of shrimp. Then make it again a few days later with another pound of shrimp for your next shindig.
3 large garlic cloves
1 1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup sweet orange marmalade
¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 tbsps. Olive oil
1 tbsp. Soy sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. or more large shrimp in shells (21-25 per pound), peeled, tail and first segment of shell left intact, and deveined
optional garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs
Using a large knife, mince and mash garlic to a paste, with 1 tsp. salt. Whisk together garlic paste, lime juice, marmalade, cilantro, 3 tablespoons oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Transfer 1/3 cup mixture to another small bowl or ramekin and reserve for dipping sauce. Combine shrimp with remaining mixture in a large sealable plastic bag and seal bag, pressing out excess air. Marinate shrimp, refrigerated, turning bag once, for 15 minutes.
Drain shrimp and gently pat dry. Heat 1 ½ teaspoons oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat. Add half of shrimp and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. (It’s tempting to cook all the shrimp at once, but try to resist. It cools down the pan and the shrimp will sort of steam instead of brown.) Transfer shrimp to a platter and cook remaining shrimp in remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of oil in the same manner. Garnish shrimp with cilantro, if desired, and serve with dipping sauce.