Ok, friends, it’s time we make a collective promise. So, please raise your hand and repeat after me: “I solemnly swear to start making piri piri sauce and using it on any and everything stat.”
I have no idea where or how I first stumbled across Piri Piri Shrimp but what I do know is that it was immediate hearts-in-eyes. Piri Piri is a chile grown in Africa and this namesake sauce is the most common way to use it. There is a variation of piri piri sauce used everywhere from African to Portuguese cuisine and this is my version. One taste and it’s easy to understand why it’s so popular: the slightly spicy, flavorful sauce is super versatile — fitting everywhere from tailgates to tapas parties.
I’ve fallen for this Piri Piri Shrimp recipe because I can make it ahead and not worry about it. Serve it on skewers and grill it up once it’s hot out or toss it with your favorite pasta for a quick dish. Or, to keep things super simple, you can just cook it up in your favorite cast iron skillet, serve it over some grains, and call it dinner.
Heat oven to 500°F and arrange rack in upper third. Place chiles on a baking sheet and roast until blackened and soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively roast them in a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat.) Set chiles aside to cool briefly then trim off stems, cut in half lengthwise, and remove the white ribs and seeds.
Word to the wise: 3 serrano chiles will make the marinade hot spicy -- if you want it less spicy, use fewer chiles or something less spicy, like a jalapeno chile.
Combine trimmed chiles, garlic, paprika, lime juice, and vinegar in a blender or mini food processor and blend until smooth and combined, about 1 minute. Add olive oil and blend until thoroughly incorporated and marinade thickens slightly. Combine marinade and shrimp in a medium nonreactive bowl and toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
Try this marinade with chicken, pork, or your favorite vegetables too!
Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, add the shrimp and marinated and cook until the shrimp are pink. Season well with salt, toss shrimp with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges over rice.
During the warmer months, you can thread the shrimp on skewers and cook them quickly over a medium grill.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp