Recipe: Shrimp Piri-Piri

Published on: April 8th, 2023

This recipe has a Portuguese-SE African history, combining European ingredients like olive oil and garlic with fresh prawns and dried chiles native to coastal east Africa. It's Mozambique's national dish.

It's not for the faint of pallate. This shrimp piri-piri is hot, containing as it does quite a large amount of ground dried chiles.

You might find the same dish with variations on "piri-piri" (peri-peri, pili-pili, pele-pele), which come from Swahili words referring to local varieties chile pepper or chile dishes. 

Note: You probably won't be find piri-piris in the market, so use any hot dried chiles, like cayennes, chiles de arbol, bird chiles, thai chiles, japones or even repared chile flakes. Grind in a spice grinder or food processor to a course texture, roughly like crushed chile flakes.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely ground ("crushed") dried hot chiles. See Note above.
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat.  

Prepare a marinade as follows. Add the crushed peppers and garlic to the hot oil. Cook briefly, a minute or two, stirring, until the garlic and chiles are fragrant. Remove from heat. Let the mixture cool to near room temp.

Coat shrimp with the chile-garlic mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from refrigerator and let the shrimp come back to room temperature before proceding.

Drain the oil from the marinated shrimp into a saute pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp and the remaining chiles and garlic from the marinade, and cook over high heat, stirring and tossing continously, until the shrimp are pink and opaque, several minutes. Take care not to over cook.

Remove from heat, stir in lime juice. Add salt to taste. 

Eat!  The shrimp are great by themselves, with white rice, or with lettuce, in wraps or in salads.

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