Foolproof Summer Shrimp
Get some basil, fish sauce, and lime for your crustaceans
It’s grilling season now, or so I hear — I live on the 18th floor of an apartment building, so grilling is strictly a Fourth of July privilege for me. Not a big deal, as I mostly cook vegetables anyway, but you likely won’t be seeing many charcoal-fired recipes here.
However, I did get a chance to grill some shrimp over Memorial Day Weekend, and it reminded me that there are few things as delicious as that (maybe grilled lobster, naturally). Those shrimp on the barbie folks were onto something. I took my grill access that weekend as an opportunity to make one of my favorite summer recipes: shrimp with cherry tomatoes, basil, fish sauce, and lime.
This dish, straddling an underexplored gustatory line between Italy and Southeast Asia, is exceedingly simple and packs huge flavor. It’s even better when, as in the recipe below, you finish the shrimp with some peanuts fried in brown butter. And you certainly don’t need a grill; I make this frequently as a weeknight dinner throughout the summer, just using a trusty All-Clad pan. In fact, it may be even better that way, as you can scampi-fy the shrimp with some white wine and garlic (no offense to grills).
Any kind of shrimp work — I prefer large, not jumbo, for this recipe — but you’ll want to use Red Boat fish sauce and the freshest basil possible. This dish works really well over rice grits (my preference), or corn grits, polenta, or plain old rice.