Kachemak Cuisine: Try shrimp dishes for a festive holiday treat

Fresh Alaska shrimp works best for Charmoula sauce, warm chili shrimp salad recipes.

Shrimp is America’s favorite seafood. They are simply delicious cooked many different ways, and are a fast and easy protein to add to a meal. My favorite ways to enjoy them are in a pot of gumbo, poached for a shrimp cocktail, and battered and deep fried to a golden brown and served with lemon wedges and a spicy cocktail sauce. We enjoy them sautéed in white wine, herbs and butter, or quickly grilled, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and basted with melted butter. This popular crustacean is quick-cooking and incredibly versatile.

Alaska spots or coon stripe varieties of shrimp taste sweet and faintly of the sea, and are delicate and tender. I would make them every week of the year if I could. They are just so amazing, and like any Alaska seafood, a far superior product as they come from the icy cold and clear ocean water. They are worth the price and can be difficult to find sometimes, but wild Argentine shrimp are an affordable alternative. Look for a firm texture and pleasant odor when thawed.

I first became aware of this classic Moroccan sauce when I was searching for a way to add a unique flavor component to a salmon recipe for the Fish Alaska magazine recipe contest many years ago.

My taste buds love the combination of Middle Eastern spices, garlic, fresh herbs, lemon and lime zest and juices, and bright green color. It’s a perfect condiment to add an explosion of flavor to meat, seafood eggs and vegetables. It can also be used as a marinade. That’s how I used it to prepare salmon for the contest. I coated both sides of the salmon and refrigerated it while making the other components of my dish.

Charmoula sauce shrimp

Make sauce before frying shrimp, as the shrimp cook in no time at all.

Charmoula sauce


Spice mixture

1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

⅛ teaspoon white pepper

Mix spices together in a small bowl.

Add the following to a large bowl of a food processor:

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, firmly packed

½ cup cilantro, firmly packed

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon – zest and juice

1 lime – zest and juice

Slowly add 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil in the food processor while running.

Set aside.

1 lb large raw shrimp ( 21–26 in a pound) peeled and deveined.

2 teaspoons olive oil


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp, and saute approximately 5 minutes. Shrimp will take on bright orange and red colors and curl.

Turn heat down to medium low.

Add about half of the charmoula sauce to warm. Toss and serve immediately as an appetizer or over pasta or rice.

The festive seasonal colors of red and green are perfect for holiday tables. A fresh departure from the usual heavy and colorless traditional dishes, this pretty and flavorful salad would be a perfect starter to dinner. Plating this salad on a white dish will show off the festive colors. Surprise your guests with something a bit different this year.

Warm chili shrimp salad with little gems and tomatoes

Serves 4- 6

Courtesy Food and Wine, Chef Susan Spungen

1-pound Alaska Spots or Argentine Shrimp, defrosted, size 16-20

2 ripe avocados

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish

¼ cup yogurt or sour cream

Juice of 1½ limes

½ teaspoon green chile hot sauce, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 heads little gem lettuce, washed and dried

8-10 cherry on the vine tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size

Fire roasted poblano Ranch dressing


1. Peel the shrimp, leaving the tails on, and spread them out on a paper-towel-lined plate. Gently press another paper towel on top to absorb any excess moisture. Set aside.

2. Combine the flesh of the avocados, salt, cilantro leaves, yogurt, lime juice and hot sauce in the bowl of a mini food processor. Pulse until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Scrape into a small bowl and adjust seasonings if necessary, adding more salt, lime juice, or hot sauce as needed. Set aside.

3. Remove and discard the paper towels from the plate with the shrimp. Sprinkle the shrimp with the chili powder and toss to coat evenly.

4. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and butter and then the shrimp, spreading them out in a single layer. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until golden on the edges.

5. Spread the avocado crema on a medium serving platter. Arrange the lettuce leaves on top of the crema. Arrange the tomatoes around the edges of the platter and drizzle the salad with the ranch dressing. Lay the warm shrimp on top of the salad, and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve immediately.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New yYear ahead. It’s going to be a year filled with change that is good and positive. My heart has hope for a bright and healthier future for the entire world.

I pray someday soon when I see my friends I can give them the big hugs I have missed enveloping them in. I won’t experience angst and worry when being around people and trying to convince myself I should not be in the company of anyone other than The Other Fisherman and our safe pod of a very few friends.

We can have dinner parties and celebrate our wonderful lives in Alaska. We can enjoy family reunions, weddings, football games, travel and not dreading a trip to the store or post office wearing masks.

We will go out and patronize any one of our excellent local restaurants and enjoy doing this often.

I saw a rainbow Sunday afternoon and never before I have I experienced a winter snow rainbow. To me, this is a good omen. I really do believe in magic and miracles and Santa.

Stay safe, stay strong, do the right things to stay healthy and on the course to celebrate with your family, friends.

Reach Teri Robl at easthood.queen@gmail.com.

Warm chili shrimp salad with little gems and tomatoes makes a festive holiday dish with its Christmas red-and-green colors, as seen here on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in the kitchen of her Homer, Alaska, home. (Photo by Teri Robl)

Warm chili shrimp salad with little gems and tomatoes makes a festive holiday dish with its Christmas red-and-green colors, as seen here on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020, in the kitchen of her Homer, Alaska, home. (Photo by Teri Robl)

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