Shrimp was one of the first foods I recognized as a special occasion treat. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas - they all meant starting with shrimp cocktail at my house. I was never all that excited about going out for Friday fish fry as a kid (sacrilegious, I know), but I was always eager to chow down on a plate of batter fried shrimp. As an adult, I eat shrimp on a fairly regular basis, with a much expanded repertoire of recipes, but it still always feels special to me. Yet despite it's fancy reputation, at least in my mind, it's one of the quickest and easiest proteins to prepare and is a godsend for anyone in a hurry or on a diet. I made this sandwich on a Friday night when I had plenty of time and no intentions of eating light, using that quick-cooking, lean protein to soak up a brilliant collection of flavors. The marinade begins with creamy, mildly sweet coconut milk, which is then fortified with pungent garlic, brightened with lime, and spiced up with jalapeno, with a final fresh herby note from the cilantro. Because the spice in the marinade isn't quite enough for me (though it may be for many), I added an additional nuanced layer of heat with Sriracha mayo. Cucumber and lettuce finish the sandwich with a cool and crunchy element along with a hint of astrigency from the red onion. All of these elements come together to create a sandwich that would be right at home next to a fruity umbrella drink in an exotic beach cabana, but I think it feels just perfect in my Wisconsin backyard with a cold beer.
Spicy Coconut Shrimp Sandwich
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno (include seeds and ribs for more heat)
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces raw large or jumbo shrimp, deshelled and deveined
Olive or canola oil
Individual French roll, demi baguette, or sub roll, split
1 tablespoon light or regular mayo
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
Lettuce, thinly sliced cucumber and red onion, and cilantro, for serving
1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut milk, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, and stir well to combine. Add shrimp, toss to coat, and set aside for at least 30 minutes. In a small bowl, combine mayo and Sriracha sauce and stir to combine.
2. Preheat broiler (or grill) and brush each side of the roll with olive oil. Toast under the broiler until golden brown and crunchy, 2 to 4 minutes. Let come to room temperature, place lettuce leaves on bottom half, and spread top half with spicy mayo.
3. Meanwhile, preheat a pan (or grill) over medium heat and add a drizzle of oil. When oil is hot, add shrimp and cook, turning once, until shrimp are just cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
4. Place shrimp on top of bottom half of roll, top with cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and top half of roll. Serve promptly.