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Fish 4 Friday: Chimichurri Marinated Grilled Gulf Shrimp

This entry is part of a series, F4F 2011»

Shrimp

First, the good news: There’s every indication that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is safe to come out of the water.

Now the bad news: Gulf shrimping season closed May 15. There’s a hiatus, at least two months long, while the miniature crustaceans return to the open sea from the bays and backwaters along the coast. These cousins of the lobster and mudbug need some time to grow to economically valuable size, and to give the fishery time to rest and recover. It’s good management, but it means that Gulf shrimp will be in short supply starting this week.

Not to worry, if you hurry out today you can still find abundant supplies at your grocer’s or fishmonger’s. So grab a couple pounds (more if you’re in charge if this weekend’s grill party) and get ready to enjoy…

If there’s anybody along the Gulf who knows how to treat seafood, it’s likely to be chef Chris Lusk of Café Adelaide in New Orleans. He won the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off a year ago, and was crowned “King of Louisiana Seafood.”He’s not afraid to make zesty dishes; Chile Pepper magazine just outed the secret stash of hot chiles he hides in his office.

We’re not going for super-hot today, but we will feature one of his great creations:

Chipotles

Some of you may know about and use chimichurri sauce; others maybe never heard of it. Chimichurri is a Latin specialty, enjoyed all over Central and South America. May regional variations abound. My personal favorite is a classic Argentine version, great with steak. The salsa is usually green, but there are red versions in some regions.

You might think “pesto,” but that doesn’t do chimichurri full justice. There are a lot more ingredients in a good, homemade chimichurri than in a standard pesto, and the flavor is rich and complex.

Chef Lusk uses chipotle chiles in adobo to make his signature chimichurri, and it’s a nice touch. These chiles are hot (some say very hot), but not all that heat gets into the shrimp from the marinade. These tasty bites will have a nice, even zest, with plenty of aroma and vigor from the herbs and garlic.

This marinade will also work for beef or pork, if you’d like. Make a double batch when you’re doing the shrimp, and split it into two. Take some loin pork chops and cut into bite-size cubes, then marinade them in some of the sauce. Put the meat on skewers and cook for 3-4 minutes a side; meaning, start a few minutes before you put the shrimp on, so all the food will be done together.

If you like your food a bit more spicy, then try this: Use the adobo sauce from another can of chipotle chiles and use the adobo sauce as a quick baste when you turn the shrimp (or pork). That’ll brighten up your day…

Enjoy the (Latin Dancing Shrimp) Heat!

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