THAI TAMARIND PAN-GRILLED SHRIMP

PAN-GRILLED SHRIMP WITH THAI TAMARIND SAUCE (for four)

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1-1/2 pounds jumbo (15 per pound) shrimp

3 teaspoons sea salt dissolved in 1-1/2 cups water

For the tamarind sauce:

1 tablespoon tamarind from a pliable block

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 tablespoon chopped cleaned fresh cilantro roots and/or stems, pounded to a paste (Thai cooking often uses cilantro roots – their flavor is more pungent than that of the leaves)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon Sriracha or other Asian hot chile sauce

1-1/2 tablespoons palm sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon nam pla or other Asian fish sauce, or to taste

2 fresh Serrano or jalapeno chiles, seeded, halved lengthwise and finely julienned crosswise, and fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish.


  1. Soak shrimp (still in shells) in salt water 5 minutes, then rinse well in a colander.
  1. Make the tamarind sauce. Place tamarind in a bowl with the water and rub with your fingers to dissolve pulp.  Pour through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the solids with a wooden spoon, and discard solids.
  1. Heat oil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then cook cilantro paste and garlic, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in hot sauce, 3 tablespoons tamarind juice, palm sugar and fish sauce.  Simmer until thickened to the consistency of a light syrup, about 3 minutes.  (Tamarind sauce can be made 2 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.)
  1. Snip through shells of shrimp along the back using kitchen shears, exposing vein and leaving tail and last segment of shell intact. Devein shrimp leaving shells intact.   Grill them in a hot, well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderate heat, turning once, until shells are pink and slightly charred and shrimp are just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  2. Spoon tamarind sauce over shrimp (still in shells) in a serving dish. Sprinkle with chiles and coriander

from Gourmet Magazine, June, 2000

THAI SHRIMP REDUX:  Thai-style shrimp salad with cucumbers and tomatoes

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