Cooking shrimp until well-browned without overcooking can be a difficult needle to thread. To help with this, we often coat the delicate seafood with an aromatic marinade using ingredients that speed browning, such as sugar or fat.
We include both in a puree for this recipe from our book “Cook What You Have,” which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals. And then we use the puree two ways.
First, we make a quick blend of garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs — scallions, parsley, cilantro, basil or any combination will taste great. Some of the puree we use as a marinade mixed with just half a teaspoon of white sugar, which is enough to boost the browning without tasting outright sweet. A splash of lemon juice stirred into the rest creates a bright sauce for serving.
The coated shrimp are threaded onto skewers to make flipping easy, and they roast under the broiler in under 10 minutes. We call for extra-large shrimp here; use slightly larger or smaller ones if you like, but adjust the cooking time accordingly.
And one last tip to promote that browning. Be sure to pat the shrimp thoroughly dry so they’ll char nicely under the broiler.
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley OR cilantro OR basil OR a combination
4 scallions, roughly chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1½ teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ to ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry (see headnote)
½ teaspoon white sugar
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, set a wire rack in the baking sheet and mist it with cooking spray. In a food processor, combine the parsley, scallions, garlic, lemon zest, pepper flakes (if using), ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Pulse until finely chopped, about 8 pulses. Scrape the sides of the bowl, then add the oil and process until bright green and almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer ¼ cup of the puree to a small bowl; set aside for serving.
In a medium bowl, toss together the shrimp, the remaining herb puree, sugar and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Thread the shrimp onto 4 to 6 metal skewers, dividing them evenly; skewer each shrimp in a C shape, piercing through 2 points. Place on the prepared rack, slathering the top of the shrimp with any remaining puree from the bowl. Let stand at room temperature while you heat the broiler.
Heat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches from the element. Broil until the shrimp are pink with light brown spots, about 3 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, flip the skewers and continue to broil until the shrimp are just opaque and lightly charred, 2 to 4 minutes.
Transfer the skewers to a serving platter. Stir the lemon juice into the reserved herb puree and drizzle over the shrimp.
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