International cooking for the youthful malcontent.

Shrimp Satay

Shrimp Satay

Like most humans, I get deep primal satisfaction from cooking with fire. Grilling over wood or charcoal makes me feel like how I imagine the ape from 2001: A Space Odyssey felt after he discovered he could use a large bone to club his enemies to death – like I have finally obtained the necessary power to do anything I want.

So I bought this for the balcony. Yes, for 29.99, this 14″-diameter Colourful Portable Charcoal BBQ has empowered me with our species’ ancestral gift of Fire. My first choice for what to apply this Fire to? Shrimps. Shrimps? Yes, because I don’t love shrimps, unless they’re grilled. Then, I would bash your skull in with a buffalo femur to eat just one of them.

I’ve never been completely sold on shrimp. Breaded and deep-fried shrimp are boring, wok- or pan-fried shrimp are often of inconsistent texture (it’s easy to over-cook them this way) but grilled shrimp, when done right, are transcendent. For me, there’s no other way, period. Of course, when it comes to grilling, my first thoughts often go towards skewers and satay specifically. I used a modified version of my chicken satay recipe for these shrimp – one that I’ve used on shrimp several times with fantastic, finger-licking results. If you ever get bored of the same-old same-old BBQ staples, try this recipe and you may never go back.

Ingredients (for 2 portions):

  • 12-18 large shrimps, uncooked, tails-on, de-veined, de-shelled
  • 3-4 bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water for 20 minutes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne powder (or less if you don’t like a bit of heat)
  • 2-3 tbsp unsalted peanuts, ground into a fine meal

What you will need: large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons, knife and cutting board, a BBQ or non-stick frying pan, paper towels, plastic wrap


  1. Thaw the shrimp. If you are using frozen shrimp (like me) you’ll need to thaw them first. Fill a large bowl with cold water and insert the shrimp into the water. Do not use warm water! This sounds like a great idea (it would thaw the shrimp faster, right?) but it’s a terrible idea. Warm or hot water can actually begin the cooking process and this will result in tough, rubbery shrimp. Read more here. Shrimp thaw fairly quickly anyway, so this will only take 15-20 minutes unless youre doing a larger batch. Once the shrimps are no longer firm (they’ll get kind of floppy and soft) pour out the water. Line a plate or your counter with about 3-5 layers of paper towels and place the shrimp on the paper. Before they go into the marinade, they need to be dry, otherwise the sauce won’t stick as well. If you haven’t remembered to do so, put your bamboo skewers into cold water now, too.
  2. While you’re waiting for the shrimps to thaw, prepare the marinade. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients (except the shrimp and skewers of course) and stir them well to get an even mix of spices and liquids.
  3. Once the shrimps are thawed and dried, put them into the marinade and gently mix them so every shrimp has been coated with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let them marinate in the fridge for 10-30 minutes (it’s up to you – technically you could grill right away if you’re in a rush)
  4. Thread the skewers. Remove the shrimps from the marinade and slide 3 shrimps on each skewer (or more if you’ve got large skewers) in the method shown in the photograph above. I like to make sure they’re all facing the same way because I think it’s pretty.
  5. Prepare your cooking method. Grilling: I talk about it in the directions for chicken satay. Light the coals and wait for them to turn nice and white, a good medium to medium-high heat. Pan-frying: put your non-stick frying pan on the burner and crank the heat to medium – medium-high (about 6 on my dial).
  6. Cook your shrimps. On either the grill or the frying pan, they’ll take about 2-3 minutes per side on medium-heat. You’ll know they’re done when the tail turns pink-ish, and the flesh turns opaque and white. Some blackened edges are always welcome.
  7. Remove the skewers from the grill, and serve immediately.

Now that it’s approaching summer and I own a grilling tool, I think it’s safe to assume an increasing number of grill-recipes coming soon to this blog. My girlfriend and I were in heaven over the weekend with shrimp satay, grilled paneer (homemade!) skewers marinated in a blend of both garam masala and satay spices, accompanied by grilled flatbreads and leftover mattar paneer. BBQ season is here.


2 responses

  1. This is a good solution for me, might be able to make an inspiration to me, thanks

    May 6, 2010 at 7:31 am

  2. it good for me1 but frankly speaking, you made me hungry !

    May 8, 2010 at 8:13 am

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