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Smoky Pepper Shrimp

This is a weeknight meal if there ever was one. Super fast, flavorful, finished in under a half hour. SoupAddict made it for lunch on Saturday: that half hour also included rummaging through her spices, and peeling the shrimp.

This dish was so quick to prepare, in fact, that its various cooking stages reached near burning points during the brief pauses SoupAddict took to photograph the progress. So fast, it was finished before the orzo. Believe it, it’s true.

First, if you need to, peel and devein the shrimp. (Here’s a primer, if you need one.) At SoupAddict’s grocery store, the more interesting shrimp choices, including the tiger shrimp shown here, come with their shells on, although they’re often deveined. Peeling shrimp is not the most exciting thing you’ll ever do, but it’s really easy and doesn’t take much time.

These shrimp were particularly plump and sea-scented today. Good stuff. Don’t forget to rinse them before cooking.

SoupAddict did not have the primary spice (Szechuan pepper) called for in the original recipe, so she had to improvise to produce both the smoky and potent pepper qualities, which included adding ground chipotle, smoked salt (by Maldon), 5 spice blend, and lots of freshy ground black pepper.

Toss the shrimp with the spice mix. No need to leave to leave sit. The cooking process will really bring out the flavor in the spices and season the shrimp in the process.

Ginger, scallions and garlic will add their own thangs to the dish. “Thang” is a culinary term that SoupAddict just made into a culinary term. Watch for it, as it catches on.

Hurry – snap the picture! This was probably 45 seconds in to cooking time. Barely enough time to focus the camera before the shrimp were already pinking up.

The ginger, scallions and garlic also cook really, really fast. And smell divine, mixed with the browned bits of spice from the shrimp.

Another rush to capture the picture before the vegetables burn. Orzo check: not quite done. D’oh! Move shrimp to bowl and cover while toe-tapping in front of the simmering pot of orzo.

A very yummy light lunch, or serve with a side salad for dinner.

Smoky Pepper Shrimp

Adapted from a recipe by Chris Santos


1 tablespoon high-heat oil, like peanut or safflower
20 shrimp, cleaned, peeled, deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt (or smoke salt, if you have it)
1/2 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper or freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon five spice powder
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne pepper, your choice (chipotle will add smoky heat; cayenne just heat)
2 scallions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced ginger


Heat oil in a pan on medium-high. Combine the spices and toss with the shrimp. Add shrimp to the hot pan and cook about 45 seconds per side, or until opaque. Remove the shrimp. Add the scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and toss to mix with the vegetables. Saute until cooked through, firm to the touch and pink. Serve immediately over rice or orzo.


Sunday 6th of February 2011

Oh, boy, does this look fabulous! Land locked here in Indiana, seafood doesn't make our menu often enough...but I may have to pick up some shrimp very soon!!!


Wednesday 2nd of February 2011

This sounds amazing! Love the photo!

Phyllis Ryan

Tuesday 1st of February 2011

I love shrimp, and living in Florida it is usually available fresh. Yum. Love the spices and Sweet Thang is my favorite hot sauce. Comes from Alabama.


Tuesday 1st of February 2011

That is one of the disadvantages of living in the Midwest - we're pretty far away from "fresh," no matter what the stores say....


Monday 31st of January 2011

I'm totally behind you with the word 'thang.' I use it frequently myself on my blog-thang to say that thang I can't quite think of the word for.