Grilled Shrimp with Tamarind Sauce

I was in the kitchen alternating between grilling the shrimps and cooking the tamarind sauce when I saw my blog's traffic viewing counter turn 100,000.  I had been watching it go up the whole morning.  As apprehensive as I was, I had been trying to do all things together to keep my mind off the numbers for a while.  Just seeing so many 9s already gave me an odd sensation of disbelief.  Then when I saw the magical number, it gave me a sense of completion.  I was more than happy.   It's like time stopped when I was staring at the screen.  Jubilance can give strange reactions sometimes.  You see, it is not just a number to me.  I see it as a number of times I have opened my kitchen to anyone who knocked, looked in and checked what I was cooking.  One hundred thousand times, I opened my door to you and during those times you bid me goodbye and you came back over and over again.  Thank you for holding that interest and visiting my kitchen. 

When I started Apron & Sneakers 8 months ago, I was convinced that I will not interest anyone other than myself & my husband.  I watched the trickle of traffic to my blog.  10 a day at the beginning already made me happy.  During that time, I never even thought a thousand viewers can possibly be interested in what I cook, write & photograph.

When my counter turned 100,000, I received a lot of heart-warming messages sharing with me the exultation I felt.  And I would like to share with you this accomplishment I feel because if not for your constant visits, I wouldn't have realized this.  My small kitchen can accommodate only 4 but through the window of my blog, I am able to accommodate 400 of you a day from each nook & cranny of the world.   I could have baked a cake but since I don't have a relationship with baking that I can be proud of, I made this simple tamarind sauce.  Sour, salty, sweet & a bit spicy.  Diverse tastes in one dish to celebrate the diversity of everyone who comes from all parts of the world united in a single thing - food.

If there is an accomplishment, there is a reason to celebrate.   From the time I formed my very first post until this 170th, my husband, who had been tirelessly tasting, criticizing, relieving me from some mom duties & proofreading, took me to a wonderful restaurant to celebrate.  Il Tino is a restaurant that opened in 2006 but the owners retained the iconic name of the best restaurant in Ostia (close to Ostia Antica) of the past decades.  They serve contemporary food and an exemplary list of wines with degustation menus that change constantly.

with love, claudio & daniele

1.   warm calamari, scallions cooked in old vinegar, hazelnuts & wild celery.   2.  octopus in sweet & sour sauce plum & chive sauce.   3.  potato & tarragon gnocchi, green apple & marinated mackerel.   4. a plate of their own bread


1.  secco bertani 2009.   2.  caffe' macchiato with their own biscuits.  3.  souffle' with vanilla & mandarin sauce.   4.  grilled pork tenderloin, strong mustard, black grapes & dark jerusalem artichokes (topinambour).   5.  milk chocolate mousse.
Now back to the recipe, tamarind is naturally tangy & sweet at the same time so expect a slight explosion of all tastes imaginable in one forkful.  I would compare it to chutney but stronger.  I prefer to cook the shrimp and sauce separately to attain the distinguishing tastes of the shrimps & the tamarind.   Both are delicious and you have the option to gauge the amount of sauce you would like to mix the shrimp with.  I'd like to be given the upperhand to do that than seeing my food drowning in the sauce. 

If you don't have Port to mix it with, just use whatever red wine you have.  I did cook my first tamarind sauce with red wine but when I mixed it with Port the following time, I tasted a difference.  Port was better.   I understand that there are also tamarind pastes available.  I bought a block of the pure seedless fruit so it's quite concentrated & strong.  I never tried the paste but it should be the dilluted version of the pure block.  I concocted this recipe for the pure fruit.  If you try it with the paste, do tell me how it went. 

Grilled Shrimp with Tamarind Sauce

Serves 2, makes 4 skewers of 3 shrimp each
  • 12 pieces large shrimp, shelled & deveined
  • 2 tablespoons pure tamarind fruit (I used the one that's in one block.)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 chili, minced (seeds discarded)
  • 1 sprig spring onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. In a bowl, dilute the tamarind in the water.  Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, over medium heat, sautè the chili and spring onion in extra virgin olive oil.  After 2 - 3 minutes, add the ginger then add the diluted tamarind immediately.  
  3. Add the sugar, salt & pepper.  Pour the Port.  Let it evaporate. 
  4. Adjust the taste.  Add sugar & salt if you think it still needs adjustment.   Set aside.
  5. To grill the shrimp, put the shelled & deveined shrimp in  a skewer.   About 3 in 1 skewer is already good if you have the large ones. 
  6. Warm up the griddle over medium heat. When it's hot, start grilling the skewered shrimp.  
  7. Serve warm.  Serve the sauce under or on the side of the shrimp.