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 extremely sweet apricots, fresh picked and organic from her yard to share with our class! Jessica said that apricot season lasts only 2 weeks at the beginning of summer, so I was so elated that I could add such a wonderful ingredient into 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 a nice 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 to 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: In order 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 maillaird 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, amazing rich 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!
- 8 small dried chilies (1-2 inches long) to make 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped chili flakes
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock (broth can be substituted)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⅓ cup (250 g) polenta
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil (for grilling)
- 8 ounces apricots, skins removed, halved and cut into ½-inch pieces
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 slices of ginger, peeled, ¼- inch slices
- ½ cup diced apricot, small pieces
- ½ cup diced tomato, seeds removed
- ½ cup diced avocado
- ¼ teaspoon finely diced Serrano chili, add more if you like more heat
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16-20 count size), peeled, tail on, deveined, washed
- Ground chili pepper
- Smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Remove stems and seeds from the dried chili. Wearing gloves, chop chili into large flakes, or add to a blender for about 1 minute. Reserve.
- Heat oil in a small saucepan, until the temperature of the oil reaches 225°F to 240°F. Remove from heat.
- Add the chili flakes and let infuse for at least 1 hour.
- Strain chili oil through a fine mesh strainer. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, will last for up to 1 month.
- Combine stock, garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Gradually pour polenta into the pan and cook over low heat, stirring often. Cook for 17 to 20 minutes, until the polenta is quite dry and coats the bottom of the pan. The polenta will become very thick.
- Warm the cream and coconut milk in a saucepan, be careful not to burn the cream.
- Increase the heat of the pan with the polenta to medium, and stir in the butter.
- Add the warmed liquid about a ½ cup at a time, stirring the polenta so it absorbs the liquid. Season polenta with salt and pepper to your liking.
- In a small sheet tray, lined with plastic wrap. Pour the polenta and evenly spread to a 1-inch thick layer. Cover with another piece of plastic wrap, and roll a rolling pin across the polenta to create a flat surface.
- Refrigerate for several hours until the polenta has set. To speed up the process, place the sheet tray of polenta in the freezer and check every 15 minutes until the polenta has cooled to the touch and is firm. In the meanwhile, prepare Apricot Ginger glaze.
- When cooled and set, cut the polenta onto desired shapes (circles, triangles, squares) and transfer to a sheet tray.
- When ready to serve, heat grill to high heat. Lightly grease the grill with olive oil. Brush olive oil on both sides of the polenta cut outs. Grill the polenta for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown grill marks are left on the surface and slightly crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Transfer to a serving platter.
- Bring a pot of water to boil. Prepare an ice bath to cool the apricots quickly. Score the bottom of the apricots with a X, making the cuts half the way up the sides , ensuring the cuts just go through the skin.
- Add the apricots to the boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, just until the skin pulls away from the flesh. Quickly add the apricots to the ice bath. Drain and peel the apricots. Halve, remove pit and cut into ½-inch pieces. Puree in a blender for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Strain puree though a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
- In a small saucepan, combine the apricot puree, sugar, lemon juice and ginger. Simmer over medium heat, skimming foam as needed until the puree reaches 215°F to 220°F. Remove from the heat. Reserve the glaze until ready to grill the shrimp. Reheat glaze if needed before glazing the shrimp.
- Combine apricot, tomato, avocado, chili, mint leaves and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate.
- Prepare and clean shrimp. Add 5 pieces of shrimp to a skewer.
- Lightly oil both sides of the shrimp with olive oil.
- Season both sides of the shrimp skewers with salt, pepper, chili pepper and smoked paprika to your liking.
- Heat grill to high heat. Lightly grease the grill with olive oil. Add the shrimp skewers to the grill and cook until pink, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
- Generously brush each size of the shrimp skewers with the Ginger Apricot glaze.
- Add the coconut polenta to the center of the plate. Serve 1-2 skewers, per person (remove the skewers if desired). Lightly drizzle with Chili oil. Serve with apricot salsa.