Shrimp Heads and Other BBQ Greats

When the sunshines in Seattle, the first thing we do is hit the fridge for some grilling food. And if, perchance, we get three days in a row of sunshine, rest assured, that will be three days of grilling. This might sound repetitive, but let me tell you, it was in no way so. Each day we reaped new bounty from fridge, freezer and market and made delicious, inspired meals, entirely on our grill.

On this particular evening we had chosen to start with a little in season grilled asparagus. The other day my mother wrote to me asking for my grilled asparagus recipe because I had made it so fabulously for them. My secret? It actually comes from Thierry Rautureau, great chef of Rover’s here in Seattle, explaining in an interview I did with him about spring vegetables. Olive oil, salt, pepper and plenty of it, grill for 7 minutes one side, 6 the other. Seems almost too easy, yet is so fabulous!

We continued on with large, head on shrimp. I understand why people don’t eat tails and heads in soggy curries or pre-frozen shrimp dishes. But with plump, delicious shrimp, grilled till crunchy, believe me, there is nothing better than a shrimp head. The number one thing that makes it difficult is looking at it, so close your eyes and crunch down. The texture is easy, it is crispy like a potato chip. And the flavor is fabulous, feel your mouth awash in more shrimpified shrimpiness than you could have thought possible. Truly, all the flavor is from the neck up. We salt, pepper and red pepper ours heavily so that when they grill up, they add another texture dynamic, burnt into the shell. For some reason, which I don’t really understand, much off the red pepper builds up right around the edge of the shell, at the start of the head, so it makes the heads extra tasty.

And finally, don’t forget to finish up with a touch of dessert, straight off the grill. Peaches are a favorite, but the ones at the market looked a little sorry, so we picked up some miniature bananas, sprinkled them with a bit of brown sugar if you’d like (we didn’t this time, but it adds nice caramelization) and grill them until they’re soft but not yet gooey.

As I write this, I look outside at yet another beautiful day and think about what is in my fridge that we could grill up tonight. Spring onions, green garlic, radishes, leave nothing out, little is not improved by grilling.