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Salt & Pepper Crusted Shrimp with Lemon-Basil Dipping Sauce

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Serves four as a main dish or six as an appetizer.

For this recipe, don’t use “easy-peel” shrimp—meaning shrimp whose shells have been split down the back—as too much salt would get into the shrimp meat. If you can’t find any other shrimp, cut the salt in half. I also recommend using the largest shrimp you can buy, so that the ratio of salt and pepper to shrimp is well balanced.

For the lemon-basil dipping sauce:
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled 
  • 1/2 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
For the shrimp:
  • 2 lb. jumbo shrimp in the shell (24 to 30; not “easy-peel”), thawed completely if frozen and blotted dry 
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. kosher salt (I prefer Morton brand for crusting) or coarse sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Heat a gas grill to medium high or prepare a ­medium-hot charcoal fire. (If using charcoal, be sure the grate is hot, too.) While the grill is heating, combine all the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl; mix well and let sit to macerate.

When the grill is hot, blot the shrimp dry and put them in a large bowl. Toss with the oil to coat lightly. Immediately before grilling, mix the salt and pepper and sprinkle evenly over the shrimp; toss to coat thoroughly. Put the shrimp ­directly on the grate and grill, turning once, until the shells are pink and the flesh is opaque, about 6 minutes total. When cool enough to touch, serve the shrimp in the shells to peel with your fingers and dip into the sauce.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings, Calories (kcal): 370, Fat (kcal): 31, Fat Calories (g): 280, Saturated Fat (g): 8, Protein (g): 20, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19, Carbohydrates (mg): 3, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 3, Sodium (g): 2150, Cholesterol (g): 200, Fiber (g): 1,

Photo: Scott Phillips

We made Salt and Pepper Shrimp with the lemon-basil dipping sauce at the cottage last week. It was a hit with everyone; four adults and two teenagers. Everyone received a large cloth napkin and we all dug in. Eating them was messy, fun and so addictive. We followed the salt and pepper shrimp with the Cedar-Planked Salmon with Red Pepper & Caper Sauce: a totally delightful meal. Thank you Fine Cooking!!

The dipping sauce was great, but grilling the shrimp in the shell, even being very careful with the kind of shrimp and their handling, resulted in a shell that seemed stuck with crazy glue. Once the shrimp had cooled, the shell was even harder to remove. Good thing the dog didn't mind the shells, because we gave up trying to pry it off.

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