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September 10, 2017

Spicy Beer Shrimp with Lemon Cucumber Couscous

Now that classes have started, I'm definitely looking for quick meals. This shrimp dinner just so happens to have a (healthy) protein, a sauce, a carb-y side, AND some veggies and can easily be made in 30 minutes or less. I'm hoping I'll be able to manage that between classes, homework, research, and a little bit of enjoying my senior year, but we'll see. The shrimp are grilled simply and tossed in a spicy sauce with a little bit of everything good: beer, tomatoes, honey, and plenty of spice. I pair it with a quick couscous tossed with fresh cucumber and a light lemon dressing.


The sauce starts with some minced peppers. I like jalapenos and habaneros for a definite kick that still allows you to taste the rest of the dish. You can easily up that with some hotter peppers or tone it down with just jalapenos depending on your level of bravery. Once those sweat a bit, I add paprika, cayenne, and chili powder; again, you can increase or decrease the amounts to your liking. Honey and tomato paste are next, which help bulk up the sauce and balance the heat. Lastly, I throw in some beer, which is easy enough to find around my apartment. Don't worry about using any sort of special craft beer; there's enough going on here that you won't be able to tell much of a difference.


While the sauce is simmering and thickening, it's time to cook the couscous. I love couscous as an alternative to pasta since you just dump everything in and let it sit for a couple minutes as opposed to boiling a big pot of water, cooking pasta for 10-15 minutes, and having to take it out and dress it at just the right time. I normally prepare couscous by heating up one cup of water per cup of couscous, adding the couscous with a bit of butter and salt, then letting rest off the heat for 5 minutes to cook through. Here, I substitute in some vegetable broth for extra flavor and toss with diced cucumber, fresh parsley, and a lemon dressing after fluffing. Seafood always pairs well with bright, acidic lemon, and the cucumber adds some much-needed texture and freshness to lighten the dish.


Once the sauce and couscous are going, it's time to make the shrimp. Any raw shrimp will do, though as much as it annoys my dad and sister (aka taste testers for this recipe), I prefer to take most of the shells off but leave the tails on for presentation. Taking the shells off the body allows it to soak up the sauce later but the tails make it prettier and easier to pick up. I like to grill mine just until cooked through then quickly transfer to the sauce to pick up all that flavor. You could cook the shrimp by letting them simmer in the sauce instead for extra flavor, but I find that it's easier to keep an eye on the doneness when grilling and it still soaks up plenty of the sauce after. Shrimp isn't the best protein to heat up as leftovers (it tends to get very rubbery), but if you want to make this dish for multiple meals you can do so by making extra sauce and couscous and just cooking the shrimp as you need it. You can also use the sauce on pretty much anything else too, and I'm guessing my roommates will start doing shots of the stuff once I make this for dinner.


2 T Butter
6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1/2 Habanero, Minced
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne
1 tsp Chili Powder
3 T Tomato Paste
1 T Honey
2/3 Cup Beer
1 lb Shrimp
1 Cup Couscous
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
2/3 Cup Diced Cucumber
3 T Chopped Parsley
1 T Lemon Juice
1 T Olive Oil


Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the garlic and habanero and cook for 3 minutes or until soft and fragrant. Add the paprika, cayenne, and chili powder and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the tomato paste and honey and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the beer, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes or until thickened.

Bring the vegetable broth to a simmer. Add the couscous, cover, and let steam for 5 minutes. Fluff and toss with the cucumber, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. Chill if desired.

Meanwhile, brush the shrimp with a bit of oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until opaque and toss in the sauce. Serve over the couscous.

Serves 2-4
Recipe Adapted from The Beeroness

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