Caribbean Shrimp Kebabs

Dr. O is out of town for a few days on business, so I thought his absence would be a great opportunity to do another “cooking for one” series. Today’s recipe – Caribbean Shrimp Kebabs from the July/August 2004 issue of Everyday Food – was actually written for 4 servings. I just cut the ingredients in half and split the skewers between dinner the first day and lunch the second day. Use the original recipe (via the recipe link at the bottom of the post) if you’d like to cook with the normal ingredient amounts.

First, I soaked eight 6-inch wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes to ensure they wouldn’t burn in my grill pan. While the skewers soaked, I cut 1 red bell pepper into 1 1/2-inch pieces. I also made Cilantro Dipping Sauce to go with the kebabs. In the small bowl of my food processor (a blender would work fine as well), I combined 1/4 cup of firmly packed cilantro leaves, 2 tablespoons of reduced-fat mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon of dark rum, and 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder. I processed the mixture until it was smooth and then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.

When the skewers had finished soaking, I assembled 4 kebabs (using 2 skewers each – they were parallel and about an inch apart to really secure the shrimp), alternating 3 shrimp with 2 pieces of bell pepper (1/2 pound of shrimp and 1 bell pepper total). The original recipe said to thread 4 shrimp and 3 pieces of pepper for each kebab, but my shrimp were pretty large. I put the kebabs in a shallow plastic container and set them aside.

To make the marinade, I combined 1 tablespoon of dark rum, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon of curry powder, 1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I spooned the marinade over the skewers and turned them to coat. I let them stand for 5 minutes (I heated my grill pan to medium-high during the wait) and then sprinkled them with salt.

This recipe was meant to be cooked on a standard grill, so I had to improvise a bit. The original recipe said to heat the grill to high, place the skewers on the grill, cover the grill, and then cook the shrimp for 2 – 3 minutes on each side. I tend to burn things whenever my grill pan is over high heat, which is why I went with medium-high heat. Also, my grill pan doesn’t have a lid or cover, so I had to plunk my largest skillet lid over the top. I cooked the kebabs, covered, until the shrimp were opaque and the peppers were charred (3 minutes per side). I served the kebabs drizzled with the cilantro sauce.

These kebabs were so, SO good. I was a bit worried that the rum in the marinade would be overpowering (I used nice, dark Bacardi 8 ) but the flavor of the shrimp was incredible. The cilantro sauce was very fresh tasting (love the lime!) and creamy – the dish just wouldn’t have been the same without it. I’ll admit that the kebabs were a bit messy to disassemble… Using two skewers per kebab really anchored the shrimp well! The upside is that if you did cook these on a regular grill, you wouldn’t have to worry about losing any yummy shrimp between the grates.

I enjoyed this so much I almost felt bad for leaving Dr. O out… I can’t wait to share this one with him!

TIPS: I have lots of tips on this one! If the “two skewers per kebab” concept isn’t really making sense, click on the recipe link below to see Everyday Food‘s picture of the kebabs. Avoid marinating the shrimp for more than 5 minutes – they’ll get tough. Perhaps most importantly, don’t let the night you try this recipe be the night you let the dishes sit until tomorrow morning… Curry stains. Your dishes would probably be fine, but white plastic would never be the same.

Recipe link: Caribbean Shrimp Kebabs and Cilantro Dipping Sauce

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