Smoking shrimp is fast and easy, but don't overcook it.
Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. There's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, … pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp ... shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it.
Although Bubba Blue has a good point, shrimp IS the fruit of the sea, we think he missed a huge culinary opportunity while expounding on all the many ways you can eat it and that is, obviously …. smoked shrimp. And in case you were wondering, yes, yes you can, and it's amazing!
Not only will it delight your [culinary] palate to the fullest extent but it is also easy and quick. Quick is not usually a word we associate with smoking but in this rare instance, it's true. Think of how you cook shrimp now; throw them in a pot and they're done in 3 minutes. While smoking takes longer than that you could be savoring a hickory smoked jumbo kabob in less than 30 minutes.
To get started pick up some deveined, and peeled shrimp, we like jumbo but that will take a little longer to cook. As always the fresher the better, but if you have to resort to a frozen bag full of them suckers don’t worry about. Just do it and make sure you thaw them properly before smoking.
Now it's time to mix up a good rub or marinade. Mix together some salt pepper, garlic, parsley, and cayenne. Toss the shrimp with a little olive oil to coat them and then add the rub. You can just throw the shrimp and the mix in a large ziplock bag and dredge it the easy way.
Another good mix is a little salt, lemon juice, garlic, and cajun seasoning. The point is you can just mix together the stuff you know you like, you’re not a novice, you know what you’re doing.
Smoking the Shrimp
There are a few different ways to go about preparing these little buggers for smoking.
- Grab a pan and put a bunch of butter in the bottom. Then line the shrimp up in a single layer, a little overlap is okay. This is our least favorite way, the pan and butter don’t allow the smoke to circulate very well, which means it cannot coat the shrimp all the way around. But they are covered in butter and butter is never bad.
- Make shrimp kabobs. Fill up a skewer but leave a bit of room in between each piece for the smoke to circulate.
- Use a grilling basket. These handy little dudes are perfect for this sort of thing. Plus you don’t have to take the time to skewer them.
Now choose your wood. Since the smoking process is going to be quick you will want to use a strong wood. The best options are hickory or pecan. They will produce a lot of flavor in a just a little bit of time. Try to avoid the urge to create great white billows of smoke; it will not add to your smoked shrimp experience.
Warm up your smoker to around 200 degrees, if it's hot outside you might find it difficult to keep the temperature low. That just mean you will have to pay more attention during smoking.
Like we said these guys cook fast, and they will overcook in a heartbeat. Don’t leave the smoker, stick around and pay attention. We’ve all heard the age old advice “if you’re looking you’re not cooking.” Well, don’t stick too close to that one while working with shrimp. An overcooked shrimp is not edible, don’t ruin all your hard work now. Stay and keep an eye out.
Once you put them in the smoker leave them for about 10 minutes, then you need to start checking on them every few minutes. Again, do not overcook them or you will be eating cajun rubber. At around 200 degrees the shrimp should be done in about 20 minutes if you have jumbo shrimp it may take longer. But check the shrimp as it smokes, you will be able to tell when they are done because they will turn bright pink.
For a more intense smoky flavor you can smoke at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.