Let’s just travel around the world by way of food in 2019, shall we? First with French Fridays and now here we are celebrating Africa.
It’s actually how I rang in the year, with an “around the world” feast. And it’s exactly where this recipe came to life.
So really, at the end of the day, it’s absolutely fitting that we’re keeping the theme of eating dishes from around the world going this year.
I was tasked with an appetizer and dessert (which was Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee for the France/Europe region) on NYE. I really wanted to figure out an African-inspired app. Specifically, WEST African.
A long, long time ago, I was in college (gasp!). Ha, but really, I went on a summer study abroad to Ghana back in 2010. And it was amazing.
Not only did I get to explore cities, villages, and Universities, I also got to soak up the Ghanaian culture in a variety of ways. In the classroom, dancing, and playing music. But my favorite way: staying with a family in a small mountain village and experiencing everyday life.
Sappiness aside (I need to save some for when I post my Ghanaian Jollof Rice recipe later this month!) I wanted to find a way to combine the flavors I often experienced in Ghana, but in a pescatarian friendly way. I had a lot of chicken there, but it’s not necessarily part of my diet nowadays, so shrimp was the answer!
Spicy Peanut Shrimp Inspiration
That’s where the shrimp part came in – but what about the rest?
- the cumin
- the coriander
- the peppers
- the garlic
- the ginger
- the cayenne pepper
- the cinnamon
A lot of this recipe was inspired by the traditional West African Peanut Stew. If you think about it, peanuts and spice go together so amazing in Asian culture too (I’m obsessed with Peanut Sauce Dressing and using it as a dipping sauce!).
So it’s no wonder that the peanut butter base of the shrimp marinade is complimented so well with the rest of the spices and aromatics.
I tried my best to get the right mix of spices, but unfortunately for ease, a lot of the traditional West African spices just weren’t readily available for me. I need to book another plane ticket it sounds like, huh?
How to Make West African Shrimp
Now, this is the easy part.
Step 1: Whisk together the marinade (all ingredients except the shrimp).
Next, step 2: Let the shrimp marinade for 30 minutes.
Step 3: Cook on a grill pan or in a saute pan, let the marinade caramelize into another world of flavor.
Step 4: Serve it up!
What to Serve with West African Shrimp
Is it too easy if I say whatever your heart desires? Ok – yes – it is! You’re here for ANSWERS!
Simply put, when I served these as an appetizer on New Years Eve, I garnished with some cilantro, lime wedges, and we gathered around the plate and dug in.
I’d also recommend serving them with a side of rice and some greens if you want – try sauteed kale or spinach, or even over a salad! I’d just recommend to not have your salad toppings overpower the flavor of the shrimp – you will want all the spicy sweetness you can get from them!
No matter what you choose to serve the shrimp with, I highly recommend to not forget the garnish. It brightens up the flavors and brings them together perfectly!
If this recipe is typically out of your comfort zone of flavors, I hope it inspires you to go exploring in the kitchen! If it’s right up your alley, let’s get to it! Either way, remember I love to see what you’re making in YOUR kitchen – so go ahead and snap a photo, and tag me on Instagram!
Get the Recipe West African Spicy Peanut Shrimp
- 1/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Dash of red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 1-inch piece
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil, or oil of choice
- 3/4 - 1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Green onions, white and light green parts sliced, for garnish
- Additional lime wedges, for garnish
- Whisk together peanut butter, spices, garlic, ginger, and lime juice. Slowly whisk in oil until combined. Stir in shrimp to coat, and let marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
- Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat and grease with a light layer of oil. Place shrimp in the heated pan, side down, and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until pink and translucent. Be sure to not crowd the pan, I usually do two batches.
- Serve alongside rice or by itself. Garnish with cilantro, green onion slices, or lime juice as desired.