This Pepper Shrimp dish is a popular Jamaican street food that has been cooked in a flavorful broth loaded with onion, garlic, allspice, thyme, and plenty of spicy Scotch bonnet peppers. The distinctive bright red color is both an advertisement and a warning: these shrimp are hot.
These are not the normal saltwater shrimp that most people are used to, they are actually freshwater crawfish. To adjust the heat in this Jamaican recipe, chop the peppers more finely and including their seeds to increase the heat and removing the seeds, or even leaving the peppers whole, lowers the heat in your shrimp.
Jamaican Hot Pepper Shrimp
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- 1 pound large shell-on crawfish (prawns) preferably head-on, rinsed
- 3 Scotch bonnet chile peppers
- ½ red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- ½ yellow onion finely diced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 med garlic cloves minced
- 1 tbsp annatto oil or neutral oil such as vegetable oil
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp annatto (achiote) powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tbsp distilled white vinegar
- 6 allspice berries
- Wearing latex gloves to prepare Scotch bonnet peppers; Stem and seed peppers, then chop or slice.
- In a medium bowl, add shrimp with Scotch bonnets, bell pepper, onion, thyme, garlic, annatto oil (or neutral oil), salt, annatto powder, garlic powder, and onion powder. Stir to combine well. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Using a gloved hand, scrape aromatic vegetables and herbs off shrimp and set shrimp aside in a clean bowl. Add water to vegetable marinade, then pour mixture into a stainless-steel skillet large enough to hold shrimp in a single layer.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, add allspice berries, then cover and cook at a simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add vinegar, turn heat to medium-low, and add shrimp to the skillet in a single layer. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
- Turn off heat, uncover, and stir until shrimp are just cooked through and no longer translucent, about 2 minutes longer. Season with additional salt, if desired.
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