Summer is here, and it’s time to dust off the grill! My local market was featuring beautiful and succulent jumbo shrimp which is a perfect quick and easy protein to cook on the grill. Shrimp is already so flavorful with little to no extra seasonings, but I decided to infuse some sweet and savory flavors.
My spin instructor Jessica brought some incredibly sweet apricots, freshly picked and organic from her yard to share with our class! Jessica said that apricot season lasts only two weeks at the beginning of summer, so I was so elated that I could add such an excellent ingredient to my recipe. I decided to make a spicy grilled shrimp with apricot ginger glaze served with a refreshing apricot salsa to balance the spiciness of the dish.
I seasoned the shrimp with kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper, chili powder and smoked paprika to enhance the flavors from the grill. The shrimp only need a few minutes to cook, so I generously glazed them on each side with the freshly made apricot glaze as it finished cooking. As an added element to the dish, I made a coconut polenta.
I cut the polenta into triangles and circles and drizzled them with olive oil and grilled them over high heat until grill marks were formed. The crispy and rich polenta was an excellent compliment to the tender and sweet grilled shrimp. It took about the same amount of time to cook both the shrimp and polenta, so they were ready to eat right away!
The summer season allows us to enjoy the ripest fruits and vegetables, so I like to make a salsa accompany any seafood dish whenever possible. My favorite combination which I used for this grilled shrimp recipe is ripe avocado, tomato, apricot, serrano chili, fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon juice. The apricot salsa helps to cool the heat from the spices and chili oil that is lightly drizzled on the shrimp!
This is the perfect light meal to enjoy during the warm summer days! If apricots are no longer available, then you can try ripe peaches as a substitute for the glaze and salsa.
TIP #1: Whenever I grill protein and vegetables on a high heat surface, I always prepare the grill first by brushing the hot surface with oil (vegetable, olive or grapeseed have higher smoke points). You can use an old folded kitchen towel or paper towel dipped in the oil to coat the grill. When the grill is “seasoned” with oil, then food is lightly oiled, this will allow the food to achieve nice grill marks and release from the grill easier.
TIP #2: To get nice golden brown grill marks, the trick is not to rotate or flip the food until it easily releases itself from the grates on the grill and is no longer sticking. If your meat is still sticking to the grill, then it’s not ready, and you won’t achieve the right color.
TIP #3: What causes the brown grill marks? High heat above 300 degrees F allows Maillard browning reaction to occur; when amino acids and reducing sugars (glucose and fructose) react, and melanoidin pigments are created. Not only does this process yield color, but amazing delicious flavors are also created! Make sure that there is little to no moisture on the surface of your meats when grilling. The moisture will cause the product to steam instead of brown, slowing down the rate and amount of Maillard browning. Less browning means less flavor!