grilled shrimp skewers

Cooking with San Francisco Cooking School: Shrimp on the Barbie

  • Author: Jodi Liano



For the brine:

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoon kosher salt

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 bunch Italian parsley, tough stems removed
  • ½ bunch fresh mint, tough stems removed
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 anchovy filet
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the shrimp:

  • pounds medium shrimp, U16–20, peeled and deveined
  • ¼½ cup extra-virgin olive oi
  • 3 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Grilled bread, if desired

1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces


To prepare the brine, bring the water, lemon, salt and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan and cook just until salt and sugar dissolve, 3–4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add about 2 cups of ice to cool it down. Set aside until ready to use. Brine keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for 2–3 days.

To prepare the salsa verde, roughly chop the parsley, mint and garlic. Place in the bowl of a food processor along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, anchovy and capers. Blend until well combined; then, with the motor running, drizzle in just enough olive oil to create a glossy sauce, similar in consistency to pesto. Transfer to a bowl and season as needed with salt, pepper and additional lemon. Sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for 2–3 days.

Place the shrimp in a bowl with the brine, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain shrimp well and pat them dry, discarding the brine.

In a small sauté pan, combine the oil and garlic and heat over medium-high heat. When small bubbles begin to form on the surface of the oil, reduce the heat to very low and cook for 20 minutes, until the oil is very fragrant. Strain the oil into a medium bowl to cool, reserving the garlic if desired.

Add the shrimp to the cooled oil and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Using metal skewers, thread each one with 4 pieces of onion, 4 shrimp and 4 more pieces of onion. Be sure to skewer the shrimp through the tail and head ends, forming a “C” on the skewer. Shrimp and onions should have just a small amount of space between them.

Heat a gas grill to medium heat. Place the shrimp skewers on the hot grill and cook covered until the underside is just pink, about 3 minutes. Turn shrimp over and cook until they are pink throughout and just opaque, 1–2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and let rest for a couple minutes before placing on a serving platter.

Drizzle shrimp with salsa verde and, if desired, serve with grilled bread on the side.


A note on purchasing shrimp:  Look for wild shrimp, particularly from the Carolinas or the Gulf of Mexico.  Note that most shrimp is frozen before it comes to market and this is actually okay here-fresh shrimp are so perishable it’s very rare to find them.  You want shrimp that was caught sustainably, raised antibiotic free, and in healthy and clean conditions (not always the case with farmed shrimp).