Clementine Soaked Shrimp Rolled in Lemon Leaves

Grilling shrimp straight on the fire at their utmost simplicity, zero condiment, is the only way I enjoy them.  On warmer seasons, my husband grills them outside.  On colder months, I deshell them and it's my turn to grill them on the stovetop griddle.  I don't put any salt nor oil.  It's so sumptuous this way.

I have more than a dozen of big shrimp destined to be grilled when I happened to pass by my husband's lemon tree exploding with fruit.  That lemon tree had been living a perilous tree life ever since we bought it years ago.  It almost never yielded anything and had always been weak.  A few months ago, it started to bloom and never stopped from there.  It's like it made up for all the lost years.  At present, the branches are fully laden with beautiful fruit and the blossoms are still coming out.  After years of nursing it to life, my husband's effort finally paid off.  Whenever I need the leaves for cooking, it is hard for him to say yes and we even negotiate on the number of leaves I can get!  Six is usually the maximum I can get.  Eight would make him nervous.  So when I went out again armed with a pair of scissors to get some lemons and leaves, I was guilt-stricken every time I was nipping.  Fifteen times guilty, fifteen leaves and three fruit after, I started preparing the shrimp.   I was also mentally preparing how to excuse my 15-lemon leaf spree.  

I would have put a shrimp each sandwiched in between two leaves but I didn't have the heart nor courage to take 30 leaves.   I decided to save them by just using one for every shrimp by rolling them inside.   I made sure that both ends of the shrimp are sticking out from the leaves so that they can be grilled straight on the griddle to get the natural grilled shrimp flavor. 

Being rolled inside the leaf, the flavor and scent of the clementine and basil were completely trapped inside that when you open them, the scent & taste are heavenly.  In the end, I was grateful for my husband's frugal attempt to control my lemon leaf sprees because it yielded something delicious.  If I placed the shrimp in between two leaves, the flavor would have escaped immediately while cooking.   We ate them as soon as I took them out from the griddle so we still caught the fragrance of the clementine when we unrolled the lemon leaves. 

Clementine Soaked Shrimp Rolled in Lemon Leaves

Serves 4
  • 24 big shrimp (The amount always depends on how much a person can eat.   I'm counting an average of 6 big shrimps per person.)
  • 24 untreated lemon leaves, washed & dried
  • 24 toothpicks
  • 2 clementines or mandarins, juice
  • a bunch of basil leaves, chopped finely
  • salt & pepper
  • lemon flavored extra virgin olive oil or unflavored

    1. Shell & devein shrimp.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper & drizzle with clementine juice.  Add basil leaves.  Mix to distribute the the condiments well.  Let sit in the marinade for about 10 - 15 minutes.  
    2. Get one shrimp and roll it inside a lemon leaf starting from the tip and ending with the petiole.  Make sure that both ends of the shrimp are sticking out from the leaf.  They should touch the griddle when cooking because they attain a different flavor from the shrimp that is covered with the lemon leaf.  If the shrimp is smaller than the leaf, snip off the leaf.  Secure with a toothpick.  Repeat the process until you finish the ingredients.
    3. Warm up the stove-top griddle.  Drizzle with very little extra virgin olive oil, like a teaspoonful.  Distribute it thinly all over the griddle using a kitchen paper towel and at the same time wiping off the excess.  The oil should just wet the griddle to ensure that the shrimp don't stick to it.  You can also use an outdoor barbecue grill with warm coals to attain a wonderful flavor.  If you don't have access to both, try using a thick-bottomed non-stick saucepan.  
    4. Grill for about 8 minutes both sides.  Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Serve while still warm or you will lose the flavor and aroma of the clementine.