Triple Citrus Tiger Prawns at
Christy Cushman’s 50th
photography Elizabeth Messina
Mae Ploy Sweet Thai Chilli Sauce
(note spelling of Chilli on the bottle)
Grilling 1,600 shrimp on 3 oak pit barbecues for a wedding
This is one of the first hors d’oeuvres we ever made for Maili Productions. At one wedding we made 1,600 of these!! These were also invented by accident. One day we were practicing some food for an even and were grilling meat and vegetables over an oak pit fire and we happened to have some shrimp lying around. It was taking awhile for the rest of the food to cook so we figured we’d put something quick on the grill. My friend, Joe, said we should put lemon, lime and orange zest on it. Then I decided to make it with Thai Chile Sauce. I’d learned about the Mae Ploy Thai Chile Sauce from our friend, Terri Anderson Buzzard, when we lived at Ft. Bragg together. Her dad had been a FOA in Thailand and her family learned to love the sauce then. Before I had to go to Asian markets to find it, but now it is on the shelves and many major grocery stores since Thai food has become so mainstream. Mae Ploy is the best brand and I have a picture here so you know what it looks like. There are other sweet chile sauces, but since this ingredient is such an important part of the sauce I highly recommend searching it out.
It is more time consuming to skewer each one and grill it. When I’m in a hurry, I’ve just quickly sauteed the shrimp in olive oil in a skillet and then poured the sauce over it or served the sauce on the side. So either grilled or in a pan it is delicious! They are best served warm or at room temperature. But I’ve also made them for picnics before where I’ve made them the night before and refrigerated them and then served them cold. Just remember to add the sauce just before serving. If you want to turn this into a shrimp salad then add sliced cucumbers.
Triple Citrus Tiger Prawns
Shrimp, 2 pounds of 16-20 count large, peeled and devined, tails on
Olive Oil or Canola Oil, 2 tablespoons
Kosher Salt, 1 teaspoon
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
Lemon, Lime and Orange Zest, from 1 piece of each fruit
Cilantro, leaves only for garnish
Grilled method: soak wooden skewers in water so they won’t burn on the grill. Keep the tail on the shrimp. Holding the shrimp straight on one hand, poke the skewer up the tail with the other hand. So this for all of the shrimp.
Heat the grill: Real oak fire is best, but normal gas grill is fine too. You can always add wood chips to the gas grill. Season shrimp with oil, salt, pepper. Put on half the zest for cooking and save half the zest afterward for garnish.
Stove Method: heat a large saute pan to medium high. Wait for pan to heat completely. Add one tablespoon of the oil. Cook shrimp in batches. Do not crowd pan and do not overcook. Add more oil as necessary.
Remove to serving plate or tray and garnish with cilantro and remaining zest.
Thai Chili Sauce
You’ll have the lemon, limes and oranges left over from zesting them for above. Be sure to zest them BEFORE you juice them.
May Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce, 1/2 cup
Juice of half a lime, 1 tablespoon
Juice of half a lemon, 1 teaspoon
Juice of half an orange, 4 tablespoons
Sugar, 1 tablespoon
Ginger, fresh, 1 tablespoon minced
Cilantro, fresh, 1 tablespoon, chopped
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl until sugar is dissolved. Keep refrigerated until ready to use. This will keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.