Hawaiian garlic chili shrimp

I recently took a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, and I think that the most memorable thing I ate there was the shrimp from the shrimp trucks in the North Shore. In Haleiwa, there is gathering of half a dozen food trucks, of which several serve shrimp. Giovanni’s is by far the most famous, but it also had the longest lineup so I opted for the shrimp from Honos shrimp truck. The “must-try” flavour is the traditional scampi shrimp. We got the scampi shrimp as well as the garlic chili, and split both. First of all, these portions are huuuuge. I wish I had photos, but we were so hungry and it looked so good, that everything was devoured without even thinking of taking out the camera! You get 10  jumbo shrimp, and these shrimp are massive. They are meaty and sweet and amazing. It’s served with two scoops of rice and some coleslaw. The garlic chili shrimp came out first. They were very spicy, and completely coated in a buttery sticky sweet sauce with tons and tons of garlic. Understand that this is heaven for me. Garlic AND spice AND butter!!!! My mouth was burning and my breath reeked of garlic, and I could not have been happier. Next came the scampi shrimp. They were good, but nowhere near as flavourful as the garlic chili shrimp.

So on a weeknight, I was trying to think of something light but flavourful to make for dinner. We’d had a late lunch at Nando’s and so wanted something semi-healthy to compensate. The first thing I decided on was a bocconcini salad. The combination of sweet tomatoes, avocado, and soft mozarella cheese drizzled with olive oil and balsamic cream would be a delicious fresh component to the meal. Now a protein was needed. I’m not sure that garlic chili shrimp was the best pair for bocconcini salad, given that the salad has delicate, bright, flavours, and the garlic shrimp would have a lot of strong ones, but I reasoned that if I made two of my favourite dishes, I couldn’t go wrong. Also, if I washed it down with enough white wine, I’m sure the wine could serve as a palate cleanser of some sort. Oyster Bay’s sauvignon blanc was perfect with the meal.

I got my shrimp, patted them dry and coated with seasoned cornflour. The shrimp trucks in Hawaii used shrimps with the shells on, and veins too, and this doesn’t bother me in the least bit, but since I had the choice, I figured that getting de-veined and peeled shrimp was just more convenient. I wanted to add cayenne and paprika for extra spice and colour, but had run out, so they had to be omitted and it tasted just fine. Then, I melted a very large amount of butter and some olive oil in a nonstick pan. Someone once told me that if you add a bit of olive oil to butter, it would raise the burning point a bit. So I always do that now. Add some salt to the butter as well as a scary amount of chopped garlic. When bubbly, add the shrimp, and cook on both sides. It doesn’t take long at all. Sprinkle a bit of sugar in, just for that sweet and sour taste. Then pour in enough white wine to make lots of sauce. Remember that the cornflour will absorb some wine. Add a lot of chili sauce. I used the asian red rooster chili that comes in that jar with the green lid. You know which one I’m talking about, it’s pretty ubiquitous, even in mainstream markets. But I’m sure any kind of chili sauce would do. Just put in more than you’d think you need, cos you want this dish hot. My nostrils were getting irritated just from standing over the pan and inhaling the steam. Mix it all up, and by now it should look something like this:

Let cook for a few seconds until the sauce has reached your desired consistency, i.e. sticky, and then plated it with the salad.

I knowwww. Doesn’t it look GOOD?!?! It was. Sticky garlicky, hot sauce coating plump shrimp… Yum. I’m getting hungry just writing about this and I’m not going to lie, I kind of want to make it again tonight.

Here’s a shot of the bocconcini salad that was superb as well, but a little overshadowed by the shrimp!

Go make this tonight!!!!


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