Sugarcane-Skewered Shrimp Recipe

Grilled appetizers for a summer party from Lourdes Castro's Latin Grilling. "I love to start a cookout with skewers of shrimp. Because these meaty morsels cook in less than 8 minutes, you can offer your guests a freshly grilled appetizer in no time. The fresh sugarcane serves as an unexpected spear, while the glaze is perfectly balanced between sweet coconut and tart lime. Small skewers that measure about 5" long and hold 2 shrimp make the perfect appetizer serving. The coconut glaze can be made a few hours in advance; it can stay out at room temperature for a few hours or kept in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, bring the glaze to room temperature before using. The shrimp can be skewered, left unseasoned, and kept refrigerated a few hours in advance."


Coconut-Lime Glaze
1-1/2 cups coconut milk*
3/4 cup cream of coconut**
3/4 cup lime juice (from 6-8 limes)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt

3 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
16 (5″) sugarcane skewers***
Salt and black pepper
3 limes, cut into wedges

* Coconut milk is a liquid made by simmering shredded coconut in an equal amount of water and then straining it. For best results, use the full-fat variety of coconut milk — the low-fat kind has a much milder flavour.

** This is a commercially produced canned condiment made of sweetened coconut cream. Coconut cream, which is thicker than coconut milk, is made by simmering four parts shredded coconut with one part water and then straining it. Cream of coconut is one of the main ingredients in piña coladas.

*** This hard, fibrous grass has an inedible skin that must be peeled off before the moist beige flesh can be chewed (though even the sweet, tough flesh is not swallowed). If you cannot find sugarcane, substitute small wooden or metal skewers, making sure to soak the wooden ones thoroughly before using. While you may be able to find sugarcane that is trimmed and ready to use as skewers, you may only find a whole piece of fresh sugarcane to work with. To convert the cane to skewers, first cut it crosswise into 9″-long pieces using a large, sharp chef’s knife. Then cut each piece lengthwise in half, and then in half again or in thirds to create 4 or 6 long, wedge-shaped pieces. Finally, use a paring knife to trim one end of each skewer into a sharp point.


Coconut-Lime Glaze

Step 1: Place all the glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat (make sure you have enough space in the top of the pot as the mixture will bubble). Lower the heat to medium and cook for 25 minutes, or until the mixture is reduced by 2/3. It will take on a dark tan colour. Stir intermittently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Set aside.


Step 1: Skewer about 2 shrimp onto each sugarcane spear. If the skewers aren’t sharp enough you may need to make small incisions through the shrimp with a thin knife.

Step 2: Heat your grill to high (550°F) and close the lid. Wait at least 15 minutes before continuing.

Step 3: Season the shrimp all over with salt and pepper and slather glaze over all sides as well. Oil the grill grates with a vegetable oil-soaked paper towel held with a long pair of tongs. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and keep the lid open so the shrimp don’t overcook before the sugars in the glaze caramelize. Grill the shrimp for about 4 minutes per side, basting as it cooks with more glaze. The shrimp are ready when they turn opaque and the glaze begins to caramelize.

Step 4: Arrange the shrimp skewers on a platter and serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the shrimp.

See more recipes from Lourdes Castro.

Reprinted with permission from Lourdes Castro’s Latin Grilling (2011 Ten Speed Press).