Shrimp with Black Pepper and Sesame Chili Oil

Simple. Spicy. Inexpensive.

These are some of my favorite adjectives when discussing food. This recipe is the epitome of all three, plus delcious and very satisfying. I use frozen, pre-cooked, tail-on fish, which work quite well, but I'm sure the deliciousness could be cranked up by replacing with raw jumbo or tiger shrimp. Using cooked shrimp saves money (mine were less than $4 a bag at Aldi), and though shrimp are quick cookers anyway, saves time. Cooked shrimp will produce nice grill marks in less than 30 seconds on a hot grill.

A note about sesame chili oil

Josh and I stopped in at the Asian market on the way home from work last night. What a find! Between frozen fish and fresh herbs, not to mention, of course, the rows and rows of spices and sauces, I'll be changing the way I shop for groceries from here on in. Very surprisingly though, I couldn't find sesame chili oil (surprising as I have easily found it in the past at Target), so I bought both chili oil and sesame oil, figuring I could just mix them in an empty bottle one to one. I poured the chili oil over the shrimp without tasting it first, and as an afterthought poured a little on my finger for a taste.

It was the taste of pure evil.

My eyes watered as my tongue burst into flames, and I flailed frantically around the kitchen for something to squelch the heat. Luckily my side dish for the evening called for fresh bread crumbs, so I had a slice of bread within easy reach. I digress. The point is, I had to add sesame oil to the shrimp I'd already splashed with chili oil, hoping the whole time that it wouldn't turn out too oily. There was just no way I could serve it undiluted.

Bottling my own chili sesame oil, I wound up using a two to one mixture in favor of sesame oil. Pure Asian chili oil is simply too hot for a one to one ratio with sesame oil. Trust me.

On with the recipe! You will need:

Bamboo or metal skewers for grilling
One bag frozen cooked/raw shrimp, thawed, or one pound raw shrimp from the seafood counter (about 25 count), peeled and deveined
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons chili sesame oil (bottled, or mixed at home as previously mentioned)
1 tsp lime zest or lime juice, optional

Soak skewers in water while preparing if using wooden skewers, to prevent scorching on the grill.

Place shrimp in a mixing bowl. Toss with garlic, salt and pepper. If using cooked shrimp, taste one to check seasonings and adjust as per your preference. Toss with oil, add lime zest or juice if using, and set in the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. No worries if you don't have time to marinate; it will still be plenty flavorful.

Thread 4-5 shrimp on a skewer and cook on a preheated grill for 30-45 seconds per side for cooked shrimp, or for 1-2 minutes for raw shrimp.


  1. I am *definitely* a fan of this idea.

    Do you think it would work with other seafood? Perhaps scallops? Or is part of the charm of this dish that it is literally a one bite treat?

  2. I think scallops would work well, but you'll have to really watch them on a grill. You'd definitely need to skewer them as well, lest you lose a scallop through the grate.

    Come to think of it, the marinade could work on all kinds of and chicken in particular.