Pepper was the primary heat source in Indian dishes until the Portuguese introduced chiles in the 1500s. Both are used for this fiery shrimp dish from Goa, a former Portuguese colony, in southern India.
Traditionally, feni (a Goan cashew fruit or coconut palm liquor) would go into this type of dish. This recipe, inspired by author and Indian food expert Julie Sahni, calls for gin—an aromatic nod to the dish’s origins that also helps carry the spice notes.
1 pound raw jumbo or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and place on a plate or shallow dish. Stir together gin, garlic, ginger, sugar, cayenne, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves in a bowl. Rub spice paste all over shrimp. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Heat a large well-seasoned carbon steel or cast-iron skillet over high. Add 2 teaspoons oil and swirl to coat. When shimmering, add half of the shrimp in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, until shrimp have curled and there are some rich browned spots underneath, about 2 minutes. Turn and cook, stirring often, until spices are fried and shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate, scraping out all the spice bits from skillet. Quickly wash the skillet before repeating cooking process with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining shrimp. When done, sprinkle shrimp with salt and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Toss together lettuce mix, remaining 2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Arrange on a platter. Top with the shrimp, and serve.
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