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Shrimp Skewers with Romesco

Shrimp Skewers with Romesco
Most shrimp have been frozen, and they benefit from a technique called salt rinsing, which gives them a cleaner flavor and firmer texture: In a bowl, combine the shrimp with 1 heaping tsp. salt, toss to coat evenly and let stand for 1 minute. Rinse well with cold running water. Return the shrimp to the bowl and repeat, rinsing and draining them well before using.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 tsp. tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact

Directions:

Soak the skewers and prepare the grill
If using wooden skewers, soak 8 skewers in water until needed, up to 30 minutes. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat and oil the grill rack. Or, preheat a broiler.

Make the romesco sauce
In a small fry pan over low heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted bell pepper and paprika and cook until the flavors have blended, about 5 minutes more. Let cool slightly.

Transfer the onion mixture to a food processor. Add the almonds and tomato paste and process until a paste forms, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. With the motor running, add the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil in a thin stream. Then add the vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt and a little pepper and process to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Transfer to a bowl.

Cook the shrimp
Thread the shrimp onto the soaked wooden skewers or onto metal skewers, piercing each shrimp once near the head and again near the tail to maintain the natural curve of the body. Divide the shrimp evenly among the skewers. Brush the shrimp with olive oil.

Place the skewers on the grill rack and grill, turning once, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes per side. Or, arrange the skewers on a rimmed baking sheet, place under the broiler and cook, turning once, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the shrimp on the skewers and pass the romesco sauce at the table. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Seafood, by Jay Harlow (Oxmoor House, 2007).