Grilled Shrimp Salad with Lemongrass and Chiles

Finger Hot is the commercial name for this asian-type pepper that is actually very similar to fresh cayenne and can be used in any recipe to add heat without changing the flavor. It is a good chile to chop and use in stir fry.

They are thin-walled and measure about 1/2″ wide and 5″ to 8″ long. These chiles also dry very nicely.

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1 pound jumbo shrimp
2 tsp. sea salt dissolved in 1 cup water
4-8 (1 to 2″ long finger hot chiles, minced)
2 fresh serrano or jalapeno chiles (preferably red), minced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 Tbsp. Asian fish sauce (preferably Thai naam pla)
3-4 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2-3 tsp. sugar
2 stalks fresh lemongrass
2 small shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
2 scallions (white parts and half of greens), thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces

Accompaniments: green leaf lettuce, sliced tomato and fresh cilantro or mint sprigs

Prepare the grill for cooking. Soak the shrimp (still in shells) in the salt water 5 minutes, then rinse well in a colander. Pound all the chiles with the garlic into a coarse paste with a mortar and pestle. Stir in fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to taste. Transfer to a large bowl.

Snip shells of shrimp with scissors down center of back, from wide end to second-to-last tail section. Butterfly the shrimp in their shells, making a deep incision along the length of the back, where the shells are cut and devein.

Discard the tough outer leaves of the lemongrass and trim the root ends. Thinly slice the lower 6″ of the stalks.

On an oiled rack, set 5-6″ over the glowing coals, grill the shrimp on their sides until the shells are pink and slightly charred, and the shrimp are just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. (Alternatively, you can grill the shrimp in a hot well-seasoned, ridged grill pan over moderate heat.)

Toss the shrimp (with shells still on) with the chile mixture and stir in the sliced lemongrass, shallots, scallions and mint. Serve on a bed of lettuce and tomato with cilantro or mint.

Serves 4 as a first course.