Grilled Shrimp

Chipotles in adobo boost the smoky heat of a marinade or sauce. Get grilling recipes at
In case you haven’t noticed, I love the flavor of smoky chilies. I buy cans of chipotle chilies for my favorite salsa. I also home-smoke homegrown chilies to dry or turn into paste and then use in everything from spiced nuts to cheese dip to fish cakes. In my pickling cookbook, I recommend Fresno chilies in many recipes because of their natural slightly smoky flavor.

Chipotle peppers are actually jalapenos; they’ve just been smoked and dried. When you buy them canned, they’ve been rehydrated and stored in a spicy tomato-based sauce. The sauce can be as flavorful as the peppers, and they boost the heat and smoky flavor of a marinade. You only need a little chipotle flavor for a marinade, but don’t let that stop you from opening a can. Scoop any leftover chilies and adobo into an ice cube tray, and then freeze and bag the cubes for future use. A standard ice-cube tray holds about 2 tablespoons per cube.

After I’ve used a marinade for grilling, I hate to toss what’s left. So I boil it into a sauce and mix it into a second meal.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 4 main ingredients plus some kitchen staples.
1. Brine the shrimp.
2. Puree the marinade and let soak into the shrimp.
3. Grill and enjoy.

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Chipotle-Marinated Grilled Shrimp

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
1-1/2 pounds large raw shrimp, defrosted
1-1/2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1 plum tomato or 6 cherry tomatoes (about 1/2 cup when chopped)
1/2 small onion (about 2–4 tablespoons when chopped)
3 cloves Roasted Garlic
1–2 tablespoons chipotle chilies in adobo
2 tablespoons dry white wine or water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of ground cloves

In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, set in the refrigerator, and let them brine for about 15 minutes while you prepare the marinade.

Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and put them in a food processor or blender. Add the chilies and adobo, wine, oil, sugar, pepper, and cloves. Process the marinade to a medium-smooth puree. Drain any liquid from the shrimp, pour the marinade over them, and let sit in the refrigerator for no more than 1 hour. Soak 8 bamboo skewers in cold water for about 20 minutes.

Heat the grill until it’s very hot. Thread the shrimp onto the soaked skewers, nesting them as closely together as possible. Brush extra marinade as desired on both sides of the shrimp, refrigerating the remaining marinade for fried rice (see below). Lightly oil the grill grate, and then lay the skewers on the grill and cook for 2 minutes per side, until the shrimp become opaque and lightly charred. Serve immediately over steamed rice. Serves 4.

Tips & Tricks
  • You have many options when making this recipe. You can grill the vegetables just before making the marinade, defrost pregrilled ones you have stashed in the freezer, or use fresh ingredients. The shrimp can sit in the marinade for as little as 15 minutes.
  • I tend to peel shrimp before marinating and grilling instead of getting sticky fingers at the table, but leaving the shells on can keep shrimp tender and add flavor. After the heat of summer, you can always cook them on the stovetop or in the oven.
  • Presalting the shrimp helps keep them moist and tender; the marinade adds flavor. I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt, my preferred salt for pickling, because it dissolves easily into the shrimp. If you don’t rinse the shrimp between brining and marinating, you’ll keep the shrimp’s natural flavor.
  • Serve these shrimp over steamed rice with a side of grilled homegrown vegetables, and you’ll have leftovers for a later meal (see below). Serve as is or with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and lemon juice. To mellow the chipotle, offer Fresh Yogurt for drizzling.

Chipotles in adobo boost the smoky heat of a marinade or sauce. Get grilling recipes at

Twice as Tasty

Chipotles in adobo boost the smoky heat of a marinade or sauce. Get grilling recipes at typically think of fried rice as having Asian flavors, but really it’s a trick for quickly turning leftover steamed rice into a brand-new dish. It’s a popular meal when we’re sailing, since I can put just about anything into the pan and it uses minimal fuel. So when I have leftover chipotle marinade and rice from a grilling night, it makes perfect sense to pair the two in a dish that tastes more Spanish than Asian.

This meal does take you back into the kitchen amid summer’s heat—unless you’ve set up a portable electric burner outdoors. But it’s easily broken into two burner-based steps that are finished in 20 minutes or less. On your grilling night, steam a double batch of rice and then put extra veg on the grill. On your frying night, pull those bits from the fridge and fry them for a few minutes, along with some of the marinade. The flavor profile is similar, but the mainly grilled meal and the mainly fried meal differ enough in texture and presentation that they look like independent creations.

Ready to give it a try? Full details are in the recipe below, but here are the basics:
You need just 3 main ingredients plus your choice of vegetables and leftover marinade.
1. Brine the shrimp and boil the leftover marinade.
2. Cook the vegetables and shrimp.
3. Add the rice and other ingredients.
4. Stir in the onion tops, garnish, and enjoy.

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Spanish-Inspired Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4–6
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
8–12 ounces raw shrimp, defrosted
3/4 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/4 cup reserved marinade from Chipotle-Marinated Grilled Shrimp
1 tablespoon sunflower or other high-smoking-point oil
2 cups mixed grilled or fresh vegetables like onion, carrot, bell pepper, and broccoli, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
2 eggs
2 scallions or onion tops, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Brine the shrimp as you did for grilling, tossing them with salt and refrigerating. In a small saucepan, bring the shrimp marinade to a full rolling boil over high heat; reduce to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Add the vegetables and shrimp and fry for 2–3 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the shrimp are cooked on the outside. Break the rice into individual grains with your fingers, and add it to the pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of sauce (or more to taste) and almonds. Fry, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until the rice is thoroughly heated. Make space in the center of the pan. Crack in the eggs, beat them quickly, and then stir them into the rice. As soon as the eggs set, remove the rice from the heat; stir in the green onion tops. Serve immediately, garnished with cilantro. Serves 4–6.

Tips & Tricks
  • Boiling isn’t optional if you want to use a marinade left over from raw shellfish or meat as a sauce. Foodborne bacteria die at 165°F, so bringing it to a full boil and letting it cook a couple of minutes not only intensifies the flavors but also kills any bacteria.
  • You can add leftover grilled shrimp whole or chopped to the fried rice; wait to put them in the pan with the almonds. If you’re using raw shrimp, you can get away with less expensive, smaller ones.
  • Dibs and dabs of vegetables left over from your grilling night slide nicely into this rice dish. You can add fresh ones too or a mix of both to change up the meal.
  • The trick to fried rice is to add it when the pan and oil are hot so that it doesn’t get sticky. Using cold rice that’s been separated into individual grains also keeps starchiness from taking over. If you don’t have leftover rice, you can cook up a fresh batch, but leave time for it to cool to room temperature (about 30 minutes) and then chill in the fridge (at least 1 hour).
  • I’m presenting this dish as a one prep, two meal idea for grilled shrimp, but you can leave them out for a vegetarian meal and still get a bit of protein from the almonds and eggs. Vegans may want to replace the eggs and shrimp with tofu or beans or bump up the nuts.

Get recipes for fun pickles, salsas, chutneys, and more in my cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pickling. Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy directly from me. I share more tasty treats to serve with grilled meals in The Pickled Picnic, a digital collection in an easy-to-read PDF format. It’s available exclusively through Twice as Tasty.


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