When you hear the words ‘Middle Eastern’ mentioned with regard to food you might well imagine exotic herbs and spices such as fresh mint, garlic, and of course things like dried rose petals, almond slivers, couscous and raisins, but there are plenty of very simple Middle Eastern dishes, and that is why we are including this recipe for shrimp kabobs. They are prepared in an authentic Middle Eastern way, marinated and then cooked briefly on the barbeque. This recipe is easy to double or triple if you are feeding a crowd and any leftovers may be refrigerated and perhaps served as part of a salad, or in a sandwich, the following day.
Making the Marinade
We are not going to a sweet or spicy flavor here, just something which offers aromatic appeal, so to make the marinade you will be combining parsley, garlic, lemon, and black pepper, along with a little oil. Just those few ingredients will work perfectly together to offer a true Middle Eastern taste and bring out the natural taste of your shrimp. We suggest using tail-on shrimp for this and you can either use unpeeled or peeled shrimp. For convenience sake, peeled shrimp (still with their tails on) are the best kind, since you can just eat them straight off the skewers without all that fiddly peeling.
However if you do use the unpeeled kind some of the marinade will get trapped between the shell and the flesh, and what does that mean? Yes, more flavor, but not only that. Your shrimp will be juicier because the shells protect the shrimp from the fierce barbeque heat. You also get to choose whether you use fresh or thawed shrimp, and that depends on not only your budget but also where you live. If you live by the coast, there is no excuse for not using wonderful fresh shrimp. If not then thaw it, but let it defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then mop any liquid off using paper towels. Frozen shrimp release a lot of water while they thaw.
Preparing the Kabobs
Once the shrimp have sat in the marinade for a couple hours it is time to fire up the barbeque and think about your skewers. Bamboo skewers must be soaked in water for half an hour, else they will just catch fire and you will have to watch your precious shrimp fall through the barbeque grate, never to be seen again. If steel skewers are more your thing, forget the soaking but do add a little oil before threading on the shrimp, to make the process smoother and not tear them anymore than you need to.
If you want to add some color, feel free to thread some chopped fresh mango on to the skewers between the shrimp, or even some pineapple cubes. That is optional but adds a nice sweetness as well as extra color and flavor. The kabobs take 5 minutes or less to cook, so don’t leave them unattended at any time. Keep an eye on them because you will be turning them after a couple of minutes and then taking them off after about 5 minutes. Once they are pink they are cooked. That is the great thing about cooking shrimp. When chicken is white inside that means it is done but you have to cut it open to see. With shrimp, once the outside is pink they are done, so you really can tell just by looking, and that makes the backyard chef’s life easier.
- 1 lb peeled, tail-on shrimp
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- ¼ diced mango (optional)
- Combine the olive oil, black pepper, parsley, garlic, and lemon juice.
- Pour this marinade over the shrimp, either in a glass dish or in a Ziploc bag.
- Let it marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the barbeque for a medium-hot heat.
- If you are using bamboo skewers, soak them for 30 minutes in cold water.
- Discard the marinade from the shrimp.
- Lightly coat some metal skewers with oil or take the bamboo ones out of the water.
- Arrange the shrimp on the skewers, adding some cubes of mango too if you want.
- Spray a little cooking oil on the barbeque then add the kabobs.
- Cook them for 5 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink, then serve right away.
Shrimp kabobs are always popular at cookouts and, because shrimp are so versatile, there are lots of recipes for them. Some recipes will make them spicy, others will make them sweet, and there are also recipes which feature fruit or vegetables in addition to the kabobs. This recipe is a winner because a very delicate flavor is added to the shrimp, nothing to overpower them, but instead a delicate blend of lemon, garlic and parsley. The tail-on shrimp are threaded on to skewers, with mango cubes too if you like, and then barbequed for just 5 minutes, maybe even less. They will catch a little of the smoky aroma from the grill, and then they can be served with a little mayo like you can see in the picture, or on a bed of rice if you prefer.
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