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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When The Rooster Crows

I'm a sucker for Sriracha. Packed with bold flavor and pungent garlic undertones, it has a lip tingling sweet heat that lingers on the tongue. Slow burn. Creeper chili. I literally squeeze it onto everything I eat (ask Michael).  I smear it onto crackers, spread it onto cheese, squirt it over pizza, and swirl it into soups. My favorite treat? Biting the end from a pan seared crisp-bottomed soflty steamed  potsticker and filling the hole with Sriracha Chile Sauce before shoveling the entire potsticker into my mouth. 

And.....because I'm the only one in our home who gets off on Sriracha Chili Sauce, I keep the bottle tidy by sucking the green-tipped squirter until it's clean. Yep.  No drips. No mess. No fuss. No waste. Happy camper.

While tossing around ideas for something to take to a potluck affair last weekend, I stumbled across a Ming Tsai recipe for grilled Sriracha shrimp. Bingo. Although his recipe was solid, I tweaked it. I know, right? Tweak Ming Tsai? Shoot me. After preparing his recipe and tasting it, I found it to be overly pungent and acidic, so I tempered the marinade by adding 2 tablespoons of honey to balance the flavor.

I squirted 3/4 cups of Sriracha sauce into a mixing bowl before adding 1/3 cup canola oil, the juice of a lime, 2 minced garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. After whisking the marinade together until it emulsified, I reserved 1/3 of it before pouring the remainder over 1 1/2 pounds of cleaned/deveined 21-30 count jumbo shrimp. I gave the shrimp a quick toss in the marinade and slid them into the refrigerator  for an hour to absorb the rooster bath.

After an hour, I threaded the shrimp onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers and set them aside. I cranked two cast iron grill pans until they smoked, brushed them with  oil, and carefully placed the shrimp skewers onto the sizzling pan ridges. The blazing  heat  from the grill pans immediately seared the outer flesh of the shrimp, causing them splatter and spit Sriracha mist through the smokey air.  Fabulous. After 3-4 minutes on each side, they were caramelized and charred.  The good kind of char. They were coated in a sweet spicy Sriracha candy char.  Think about it.

Knowing the Sriracha shrimp skewers would be eaten at room temperature, I let them cool before brushing them with the reserved marinade for a final flavor boost. In an attempt to tame the fiery rooster heat, I served the skewers over a cooling asian pear salad tossed in a tangy  honey-sweetened yogurt based dressing. Did it calm the flaming cock? Hell, no.

Were the shrimp skewers spicy?  Hell, yes.

The Rooster crowed.

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