Remember in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy's house lands in Oz and she walks out into a dazzling full-color world? That's how I've been feeling ever since I got my hands on Lourdes Castro's new cookbook Latin Grilling. According to Lourdes, what ties all Latin food together is that it's vibrant. Chilies, cilantro, guava, chocolate, plantains, mango, and mint -- that's just a starting list of the flavors waiting for your grill.
Lourdes is a cooking instructor who specializes in Latin food, and she's put together a cookbook that takes you to 10 different Latin-American countries. Keep reading for the recipe that has me drooling the most: Sugarcane-Skewered Shrimp With Coconut-Lime Glaze from Brazil!
This is technically an appetizer recipe, but if you've got a small family, you could probably turn it into dinner with a side of rice and a salad. Lourdes writes about grilling her salad, too -- some oil, salt, and pepper on half a head of lettuce or cabbage and it's ready to be thrown on the grill.
Sugarcane-Skewered Shrimp With Coconut-Lime Glaze
Prepare the Glaze Place all the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (make sure you have enough space in the top of the pot as the mixture will bubble). Lower the heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by two-thirds. It will take on a dark tan color. Stir intermittently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.
You can use the glaze immediately or you can make it in advance and keep it in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using.
Prepare the Shrimp Skewer about 2 shrimp onto each sugarcane spear. If the skewers aren't sharp enough, you may need to make small incisions through the shrimp with a thin knife.
Glaze and Grill the Shrimp Heat your grill to high (550ºF degrees) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before continuing.
Season the shrimp all over with salt and pepper and slather glaze over all sides as well.
Oil the grill grates with a vegetable-oil-soaked paper towel held with a long pair of tongs.
Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and keep the lid open so the shrimp don't overcook before the sugars in the glaze caramelize.
Grill the shrimp for about 4 minutes per side, basting as it cooks with more glaze. The shrimp are ready when they turn opaque and the glaze begins to caramelize.
Serve Arrange the shrimp skewers on a platter and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the shrimp.
Reprinted with permission from Latin Grilling: Recipes to Share, From Argentine Asado to Yucatecan Barbecue and More by Lourdes Castro, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.
Now... where do you get sugarcane skewers? If you don't happen to live near a Latin or Asian market selling sugarcane, you can order sugarcane swizzle sticks (which you can also use for grilling) on Amazon here and here.
Shrimp is a very rare treat for me -- and not just because it's expensive. It's also very rough on our environment. Wild-caught shrimp methods tend to dredge up a lot of other sea life that gets wasted. Farmed shrimp pollutes the ocean. But I'm starting to see more and more sustainable shrimp options, like Oregon pink shrimp available at Wegmans, Schnucks Markets, and Super One Foods stores. You can also search for certified sustainable shrimp on the Marine Stewardship Council database.
Latin Grilling is also available as an e-book.
Image via Tara Donne © 2011