Excerpted from Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang (Artisan Books). Copyright 2012.
Shrimp on the Barbie, as the Australian's say, can be superb. Just as often, though, it can be dry and tough. Cooking it in the shell, tempering it with the wet plank, and evenly transferring heat through steam rising off the plank means the delicate shrimp proteins are triple protected. Because they can be cooked and served in a matter of minutes, these shrimp are a great starter at a barbecue.
Photograph by Simon Wheeler.
- 16 jumbo spring (6-8 per pound)
- Basic Brine2 cups baste of your choice, with acid component
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup ½-inch batons fresh chives1 untreated plank, soaked in water for 1 hour
Makes approximately 8 cups
- 8 cups water
- ¼ cup sea or kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 lemons, cut in half
- 3 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Transfer to a bowl or other container and allow to cool, then refrigerate overnight before using.
Makes approximately 4 cups
- 1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil
- 10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup rendered fat from the meat being cooked (optional)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons grated garlic (use a Microplane) or garlic mashed to a paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tablespoons grated Spanish onion (use a Microplane)
- 2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
Combine all the ingredients for the fat baste in a 2-quart saucepan and bring just to a simmer; remove from the heat. For the best flavor, refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for 1 to 2 days (reheat over low heat to melt the butter before using).
*For recipes that use the optional acid component, whisk the lemon juice and vinegar into the fat baste before using, or reserve it to add later, as specified in the individual recipe.
Split the shrimp shells down the back and devein the shrimp, leaving the shells intact. Put the shrimp in a large heavy-duty plastic bag or a medium bowl and add the brine. Seal the bag or cover the bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Prepare a "mature and level" coal bed; the fire should be very hot.
*When cooking on coals, it is important to even them out, lightly tamping them down to a uniform height of 4 to 6 inches. A cast-iron skillet or a roasting pan will serve you well for this task. Then, just before placing the meal on the coals (or grate), use a hair dryer or a piece of cardboard to fan the coals sufficiently to clear away bits of ash.
Drain the shrimp (discard the brine) and pat lightly dry with paper towels. Toss with the baste in a large bowl, coasting well, then line 8 shrimp up in 2 rows. Arrange the remaining shrimp curled inside the first ones.
Put the plank on the coal bed with some coals on the exposed corners of the plank and then cover with a grill lid, a large metal bowl, or a domed lid. Cook and smoke for 6 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp are opaque throughout and pearly looking.
Transfer the shrimp to a platter, toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, and chives, and serve.