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Barbecue grill brings out the best in fresh jumbo shrimp


This year try new flavors on the grill by exchanging ribs for shrimp. It's a great way to get a full-flavored dish that's lighter and more healthful.

Great gulf shrimp or any of its cousins are perfect for the grill. The texture stands up to the heat of the grill while allowing some of the natural juices to caramelize. The natural shrimp flavor combined with your favorite barbecue sauce and the smoky flavor of the grill will set your taste buds on fire.

The biggest advantage of shrimp is the lower fat content compared to other grilled foods such as beef or pork ribs.

Twenty shrimp varieties are taken commercially from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans around the Americas. Most shrimp available in this country are frozen. Consequently, most people are familiar only with frozen shrimp, unaware of the sweeter, more delicate characteristics of fresh shrimp. Summer and autumn are the best months in the Northern Hemisphere for fresh shrimp landings.

Shrimp are graded by number per pound, with the most expensive being the biggest, about 5 to 10 per pound. Jumbo shrimp are called U-15, which means "under 15" per pound, and perfect for the grill. The next size, U-20 (under 20 per pound), are also good for grilling.

Select sweet or fresh smelling shrimp without any scent of ammonia or fishy flavors. Keep deeply chilled until ready to use.

Shell the shrimp. With a paring knife cut open the vein along the entire length of the shrimp. Remove the vein, rinsing under running cold water only as necessary to clean. Keep deep chilled until ready to grill.

The shrimp may be skewered, tail to head, to promote easier turning on the grill. Soak wooden or bamboo skewers in water before loading with shrimp to prevent burning on the grill.

Heat the grill as usual. Clean the grill grate with a good wire brush. Using long metal tongs, carefully dip a tightly rolled paper towel in olive oil and rub across the surface of the grate. Place the shrimp on the grill grate, cooking until seared, about 3 minutes per side depending on the size. Turn the shrimp over and brush the top surface with your favorite barbecue sauce. Let the shrimp finish cooking, then turn over and coat as well.

Grilled shrimp are complemented with a great slaw, potato salad or chilled pasta salad. Fresh corn pancakes and a little fresh salsa will make a wonderful side dish.

Fire up the grill and enjoy the beginning of summer with Grilled Barbecue Shrimp.

Grilled Barbecue Shrimp

Serves 4 as a main course

1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

2 limes, juiced

minced chipotles, or Tabasco or other hot sauce, to spice up the barbecue sauce to your own taste

32 jumbo shrimp (U-15), shelled and deveined, skewered if you prefer

1 recipe Rattlesnake Coleslaw (recipe follows)

1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, washed, dried

Heat the grill. Clean the grill grate with a good wire brush. Using long metal tongs, carefully dip a tightly rolled paper towel in olive oil and rub across the surface of the grate.

In a small bowl combine the barbecue sauce, lime juice, chilies or hot sauce. Whisk well and check seasoning to your own tastes.

Place the shrimp on the grill grate and cook until seared, about 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and brush the top surface with barbecue sauce mix. Allow the shrimp to finish cooking, about 3 minutes depending on the size of your shrimp. Turn over the shrimp and completely coat with the sauce.

Position the coleslaw in the center of the serving plates. Arrange the shrimp around the slaw and drizzle with the remaining sauce, or to your taste. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve.

Per serving (without coleslaw): calories, 263; calories from fat, 16 percent; fat, 5 g; cholesterol, 302 mg; sodium, 811 mg; carbohydrate, 11 g; protein, 42 mg.

Rattlesnake Coleslaw

Serves 4

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon ground caraway seed

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground celery seed

1 medium head green cabbage (or substitute red cabbage), shredded about 1/16th inch thick

1 cup cider vinegar

2 cups red wine vinegar

1 cup virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, combine the sugar, salt, caraway, pepper and celery seed.

Spread a thin layer of green or red cabbage over a large colander. Sprinkle it with some of the sugar mixture. Repeat with layers of remaining cabbage and sugar mixture. Allow to weep for 2 hours.

Transfer to a larger bowl and add the cider vinegar, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Mix well. Refrigerate overnight or up to one week.

Mix again, then adjust the salt and pepper to your taste, and serve.

Per serving: calories, 253; calories from fat, 50 percent; fat, 14 g; cholesterol, 0 mg; sodium, 340 mg; carbohydrate, 36 g; protein, 3 g.

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