This time it was to celebrate Aida’s elopement and future wedded bliss in an effortlessly elegant bridal shower. We got together at my friend Moana’s studio, drank champagne cocktails, and nibbled on finger foods. It was all kinds of fancy and I’ll be sharing lots of photos and recipes and party tips with you over the next week or so because I know there are at least one or two of you who will be hosting a bridal or baby shower this summer.
One of my contributions were these shrimp and papaya skewers that I had marinated, and skewered in advance and then grilled right before we ate. Which p.s. means they can absolutely be made in advance and are excellent party food.
Let’s talk shrimp
I am a gal who prefers super fresh local shrimp with the heads and shells left on. I was able to get some at the local fish market on the harbor in Santa Barbara. That being said (knowing full well you are probably in mid eye roll right now) this recipe will work perfectly perfect with headless, peeled and deveined shrimp. But if you have access to local shrimp and can get those bad boys with the head on–do it!
The shrimp gets marinated in loads of lime zest, fresh squeeze lime juice, ground California chili powder (or whichever chili powder you prefer) and sugar. In this instance it is a marinade but there is no reason this would not make an amazing dip for spring rolls or pot stickers, so keep that in mind next time you want to doctor up a bag of Trader Joe’s gyoza.
Because these are supposed to be dainty bites I skewered one shrimp between two papaya wedges but if you are serving them as more of a main course situation you can add as many to the skewer as you’d like.
Let’s talk papaya
For this recipe you want a ripe, sweet papaya…but not too ripe. If the papaya is like super duper, kinda starting to mold on the outside ripe, it will fall apart the second you try to skewer it. Look for one that is almost to that stage, but not quite.
Peeling a papaya is best done with a y-peeler. If you don’t have one—what the heck are you waiting for?!! They cost like two cents and perform miracles. Peel it, cut it in half and scoop out the creepy looking black seeds–eat them if you want, they taste like pepper.
The final touch for these skewers was a sprinkle of Jacobsen Salt Company’s habanero salt, just to add a touch of heat. By the way, they are not paying me to say this, but I really do love their salts, and honeys, and oh my god their salty candies which basically taste like the best salt water taffy you’ve ever had. But for these skewers the habanero salt is where its at. If you are not that into spicy, just leave it off but it does give the skewers that perfect je ne sais quoi.
- 24 bamboo or metal skewers
- 2 tablespoons lime zest
- 6 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground California chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pound shrimp, preferably head-on with shells
- 2 pounds ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into wedges
- Habanero salt, for garnish (optional)
- Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
- If using bamboo or wooden skewers, cover with water and let soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar, oil, chili powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk to dissolve sugar.
- I like to use head-on shrimp as I find they have more flavor. I leave the heads and shells on and rinse them well in cold water. If you'd rather get headless shrimp that's fine too. Peel and devein the shrimp if you'd like, either way works. Toss shrimp in marinade, cover, and refrigerate for an hour.
- Start the grill and let it heat to medium-high.
- Drain the skewers if soaking and thread papaya and shrimp (1 shrimp and 2 papaya pieces per skewer for appetizer bites and more for meal-sized portions) on the skewers. Saving any leftover marinade for brushing.
- Grill skewers, brushing with marinade occasionally until shrimp are pink, firm, and cooked through. The timing on these will depend on how hot your grill is. Mine was pretty cool, so they took about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle skewers with a little habanero salt if you'd like and serve with lime wedges.
One More Thing
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