Since I’m in “do summer things” mode, I’ve been super excited to experiment with some grilling recipes. Now that we’ve been getting the occasional cool-but-not-too-cold summer evening, I’ve been obsessed with eating outdoors. Dinner straight from the grill is one of those magical things that you can only do when the weather permits, so it’s important to take advantage of those clear, golden evening hours whenever possible.
My favorite grilled foods are shrimp and pineapple, so figuring out what to make was a no-brainer. But I wanted to create a marinade for the shrimp that would knock anyone’s socks off. Recently, I bought a bottle of Sriracha for the first time in about a year. It was one of those things where I ate too much of it, and then couldn’t stand it for a long time. Now that it’s back in my life and I remember how wonderful it is, it only made sense to put it in my marinade. I added it to some pineapple juice, garlic, salt, ginger, and coconut milk. I can’t explain why – please tell me if you know what crazy science is at work here – but coconut milk and pineapple juice make the shrimp take on a tender, buttery texture. I’d never realized that I wanted shrimp to melt in my mouth until I cooked them in this marinade, and now I don’t know how I went without it for this long. Don’t worry if you, like me, abhor the flavor of coconut. I promise – cross my heart, hope to die – that you cannot taste it on the shrimp. Coconut milk doesn’t even smell like coconut.
I let my shrimp marinate for maybe 30 minutes before cooking it, and it picked up amazing flavor. It’s mildly sweet and salty, with just a tiny kick from the Sriracha and ginger. The pineapple juice gives it a citrus-y flavor that works beautifully with the ginger, and of course makes it pair perfectly with the grilled pineapple. I like this recipe because it doesn’t take a million years to prepare, and you can cook for a lot of people at once, since you’re doing it on the grill. You can make rice and a big pitcher of lemonade/sangria to go with dinner while the shrimp is getting all delicious in the marinade, and let the grill heat up while you prepare the skewers.
I discovered throughout the process of testing this recipe that skewers are a million times easier to cook if you only put one kind of food on them. Trying to cook skewers with shrimp, pineapple, and zucchini chunks – and making sure that everything cooked evenly and properly – was just annoying. Maybe there’s a secret I don’t know about the art of the kebob, but threading meat and produce on separate skewers just makes sense. You don’t have to worry about uncooked shrimp touching pineapple where it won’t get enough heat (my main concern), and you don’t have to cut your pineapple and zucchini to precise shrimp-sized pieces so they’ll cook evenly with the shrimp.
If you don’t like grilling or you don’t like shrimp, don’t worry – you can cook the shrimp on the stove with similar results, or you can use the marinade on chicken. I marinated some chicken in it, and then used the cooked chicken to make delicious bowls for dinner a few days ago, with rice, Sriracha yogurt, sauteed zucchini, and crushed pita chips. However you use it, this marinade will make your food taste like summer – especially if you have dinner outside on the patio, with a cold drink and your favorite people. And if you really want to take it over the top, you can always have Balsamic Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. Just a suggestion.
Sriracha Shrimp Marinade
- 1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 1/4 cup pineapple juice
- 2 Tbsps sriracha
- 2 Tbsps coconut milk (I used canned coconut milk)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
Pineapple and Zucchini Skewers
- 1 medium zucchini
- 2 cups pineapple chunks - about 1/2 a fresh pineapple
- 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp fresh black pepper
Note: Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 30 minutes before use.
Combine all marinade ingredients in a shallow bowl. Place shrimp in the marinade and stir until all of it it well coated. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Slice pineapple and zucchini into bite-sized chunks. Season the zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Thread onto skewers, leaving a little space between each piece.
3. Pre-heat the grill. Thread shrimp onto skewers (keep separate from those with the pineapple and zucchini).
4. Cook skewers over medium-high heat on grill until shrimp curl and turn pink/lose transparency. Pineapple and zucchini should cook until tender - about 4-6 minutes on direct heat, and then move to indirect heat to continue getting soft. Sprinkle the cooked shrimp with dried parsley, if you're feeling fancy.