Step 1. Soak shrimp in brine.
Soak quickly in brine to keep lean seafood moist as it cooks and season it throughout. A solution of 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 quart water works to season 1 pound of seafood. Dissolve the salt in the water, and then submerge the shrimp and chill for 30 minutes.
Step 2. Remove shrimp and pat dry.
Remove the shrimp from the brine and discard liquid. Then pat the shrimp completely dry; any extra moisture on the surface of the shrimp will prevent them from searing and browning properly. Once dry, sprinkle with chili powder. We don't use additional salt here because the brine has already seasoned the shrimp.
Step 3. Sear shrimp.
Sear the shrimp in a cast-iron pan. Keep the pan dry—without cooking oil—so the spice rub toasts for more complex flavor. Flip the shrimp once they're lightly charred on one side. Remove them from the pan as soon as the edges where the veins were turn opaque.
Step 4. Serve immediately.
Enjoy soon after cooking for the best texture. Though high heat can sometimes dry out seafood, brined shrimp stays moist and succulent. The same method works equally well with fish fillets. Larger pieces may need to brine for an hour, but any longer and the solution could alter the fish's delicate texture.
Seared shrimp with a quick spice rub pairs with pan-charred summer vegetables in this simple dish that pops with fresh flavor. A little white wine vinegar balances the sweetness of the caramelized veggies and also complements the shrimp.