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How do I barbeque shrimp?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I took a cooking class recently on making sauces and we barbequed some shrimp using a grill pan on top of a gas stove.

I don't have a grill pan and am looking for advice on what kind to buy. They seem to basically come in either non-stick or cast iron versions (I don't know if there is such a thing as a stainless steel grill pan).

I don't mind a little more cleaning - is a cast iron grill pan preferable over a nonstick pan for either taste or appearance reasons? (In class the pan had some oil in it and was almost smoking before we put the shrimp on using wooden skewers, cooking the shrimp for a couple of minutes per side.)
post #2 of 14
Cast iron is more durable than the non-stick. And at higher temps, non-stick outgases some awful chemicals.

I've got a number of Cast iron grill/griddles. Works great but is more work to clean and keep seasoned.

One more tip for shrimp is to double skewer them so they can't spin on the skewers. Makes flipping them much simpler.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 14
I'd get the cast iron it will last forever.
post #4 of 14
Cast iron.

if you interlock the shrimp in an "S" type pattern you don't need to double skewer....but the double skewer is a good tip, just costly.
post #5 of 14
Well, putting on my old fuddy-duddy perfectionest hat, there is no way you can 'barbecue' shrimp on a stovetop. Actually I'm not that old, only mid-fifties. And you can get some great shrimp off a stovetop, honest.

At any rate, I'll also vote for the cast iron. In my view, shrimp need to be cooked quickly with high heat, and the cast iron will more likely give you the thermal mass to recover more quickly from the introduction of the cold shrimp skewers - they'll cook sooner and have less chance to get overcooked and rubbery.

And with good, old fashioned seasoned cast iron you don't need to worry about what chemicals may be getting stuck your food as could happen with an overheated non-stick pan. Better living through chemistry, right?

You did mention a sauce class. One sauce I make for shrimp is fairly simple. I clean and shell the raw shrimp, putting the legs, tails and shells into a saucepan. The stock is a lot richer if you can find shrimp with the heads still on, but that's pretty rare here in Salt Lake. You usually need to be able to look out your kitchen window and see the boats coming into the dock for that.

Cover the shells with cold water and bring to a simmer for maybe 20 - 30 minutes. The shells should end up the red color you expect from cooked shrimp, the stock will be sort of a murky pinkish - gray. Strain out the hard bits and return the stock to the heat, reduce by about half. Add a good splash of white wine and some crushed garlic to taste, some lemongrass if you have it on hand and it fits the menu, simmer for a while longer.

Remove from heat, blend in a dose of butter, whatever amount your arteries will allow. The base sauce can be seasoned with salt, pepper, Tabasco, Sriracha, ponzu, nam pla, minced cilantro, lemon, cajun dust, whatever suits your fancy and the method you used to cook the shrimp.

If you dump, er, uh, artfully arrange the cooked shrimp with some sauteed shallots, red bell and mushrooms over pasta, some heavy cream whisked in after you add the butter is a nice touch.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Sounds like the concensus is a resounding vote for cast iron. Though not everyone seems to be concerned, I also have second thoughts about using nonstick for health reasons (as it is, I have a son with a digestive disorder, which is what initially drove me to try to learn to cook).

I'm still kind of shakey on the proper care of cast iron pans, so I'm wondering whether a cast iron griddle, with all those ridges in it, is a lot harder to take care of.

Also, as long as were on the subject of health issues pertaining to nonstick pans, is there a good way to cook eggs in a pan other than nonstick (such as scrambled or fried eggs)?

post #7 of 14
Novice, a cast iron grill is no more nor less difficult to care for than, say, a skillet. There's no place for things to hide. And once it's properly cured, clean-up means hot water. Period. No soap, ever, on cast iron.

FWIW, the only difficult cast iron to care for are the self-basing covers that consist of holes in the underside of the lid. Stuff does get trapped in them. And drying them is a real pita.

But, then again, self-basting lids of any kind really don't make sense, because they draw the cure right out of the iron.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
So you never really wash a cast iron pan with soap and water? You just sort of wipe it with a towel and then put some oil and salt on it? Do you then heat it up after the oil and salt?
post #9 of 14
any reason not to cook them on the grill?

post #10 of 14
I treat cast iron the same way I treat my carbon steel wok. Rinse it with hot water and a paper towel to remove any stuck bits, really stubborn spots use a bit of salt as an abrasive. Dry well and wipe down with oil. Thats after they are well cured though.
post #11 of 14
You're funny :lol:. If you were a real fuddy-duddy perfectionist, you would have noticed that the OP clearly says it was a cooking class. Therefore the method of the cookery was the teaching at hand and not the precise type of equipment being used. In fact, the class was for sauces and not 'barbecue' or "shrimp"...I am now in my mid forties, so I am now too old to know everything anymore.:lips:

Oh and PS...The forum is written in English (well U.S English) which means it is fish sauce not nam pla which is Thai.;)

Novice_01, as you would have noticed everyone is saying iron but I don't see anyone give the most important reason for it. Also, no one has mentioned stainless steel (SS), which you did ask about.

SS is no good for frying etc because it has a very high heat transfer rate. This means that you will get hot spots and cooler spots. It's not easy to explain, but SS sort of has sharp hot spots, if I can put it that way. What all that means to the layman, is that SS sticks! You will find some (more expensive) SS which has copper and other soft metals "sandwiched" in the base. This is to spread the heat and take the sharpness off the heat. It does work to some degree, but you still need to know what you are doing to avoid sticking even with copper based SS.

The non-stick, as has been alluded to may (or may not) give off harmful chemicals. However, my understanding is that that only happens at very high heat. The other downer for non-stick is that it might become scratched or damaged. The big benefit of non-stick is that you do not need to use fat for frying. You can use more healthy oil, such as olive. As a side note that also answers your question about eggs. I would bet you are using oil to fry the eggs? You should use either a non-stick pan or use fat such as butter or vegetable fat such as margarine.

The cast iron gives the best of both worlds. It is tough and durable like SS but is usually heavy and thick. The heavy base of just about all iron cook ware means it has a nice even heat spread. Iron does not have hot spots like SS. When seasoned or "cured" correctly cast iron is just as non-stick as any 'non-stick' cook ware...which means, yes it cleans just as easy and is healthy because you can use oil rather than fat and less of it!

So the all round final answer is cast iron.

I hope you find all my ramblings helpfull. :D
post #12 of 14
Somewhat off topic but cajun BBQ shrimp are good. Then again anything with my 2 favorite fats (butter and bacon) in one dish has to be good!
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
So you can make scrambled eggs in a cast iron pan? In order for the eggs not to stick you need some kind of oil, in addition to whatever seasoning has been done to the pan?
post #14 of 14
Yes. You can make scrambled eggs in any pan really. You should avoid alluminium because that can turn the eggs a grey colour.

How do you make scrambled eggs now?
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