Monday, December 11, 2006

Nuke your cold from orbit

When I get sick, I've noticed that instead of reaching for the bland standbys of American comfort food I tend to up the voltage and go even spicier than I normally would when I'm feeling well. This is especially true when I get a head cold and can't taste anything, the theory being that with enough Scoville Units I can burn a hole through the congestion and at least have myself a decent meal before my sinuses fog up again.

So last night I made some shrimp fajitas with a salsa incendiary enough to allow me to taste it. Shrimp are actually my favorite fajita ingredient, as they're a snap to marinate and take about five minutes to cook either on the grill or under the broiler. For the marinade I went a little Floridian a la Steven Raichlen and used orange juice mixed with hot sauce and about half a jar of minced garlic.

(Whoa! Speaking of hot stuff, apparently a couple living the U.K. have bred the hottest chili pepper ever -- twice as hot as a habanero pepper.)

Orange and Garlic Shrimp Fajitas With a Salsa So Hot Even I Can Taste It

1 lb medium-large shrimp, uncooked and shells on (you can decide whether you want to devein them or not. I don't really have an opinion on the matter for shrimp that aren't going to be served in a shrimp cocktail-style of presentation, so I usually don't bother with the deveining)
2 cups orange juice
4 Tb minced garlic
1/2 cup hot sauce of choice -- I used Frank's RedHot for this recipe
2 Tb Cajun or Southwestern spice blend
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Pour orange juice and hot sauce over shrimp. Add garlic and spices, stir, and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (but not longer than an hour).

Meanwhile, place the following ingredients in a food processor:

8-10 tomatillos, husks removed and quartered
2-4 jalapeno peppers, cut into rings
Juice of 4 limes
1 good handful of cilantro
Sea salt to taste

Process until you get a uniform consistency, then refrigerate as well.

Fire up the grill or broiler. If grilling, thread shrimp on skewerss; if broiling, place shrimp in a single layer. Grill or broil a few minutes each side, taking care not to burn or overcook the shrimp -- just a few minutes each side keeps the shrimp plump and juicy.

Heat up a stack of small flour tortillas however you please (I've found that the toaster oven works wonders in this regard!). Serve shrimp with salsa, shredded cheddar cheese, and black beans if desired.

Serves 4, or two if you're hungry.

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