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Appetizers, Fish and Shellfish

Backyard Barbecue Shrimp Tamales With Pineapple Pico de Gallo

Backyard Barbecue Shrimp Tamales With Pineapple Pico de Gallo
Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

I have to admit, the first time I ate tamales, I didn't care for them much. The flavor was pretty good, but they had the consistency of dense, boiled dough. The way they were wrapped seemed a mystery. Why was ... Read more

Total time: 2 hours | Serves 6

Marinated shrimp

  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 24 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 2 pounds

Step 1Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, water, hot pepper sauce, cayenne, black pepper and rosemary in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate the shrimp in the refrigerator up to 2 hours.

Pineapple pico de gallo

  • 3 1/2 cups diced pineapple, drained
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 3 jalapenos, finely diced
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Step 1Combine the pineapple, cilantro, red onion, jalapenos, lime juice, salt, white pepper, red pepper flakes and cumin. Mix well to combine. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator.


  • 1 1/2 cups Japanese rice (short-or medium-grain)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large (3x1-foot) banana leaf, cut into 6 (6-inch) squares
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Marinated Shrimp (See related recipe)
  • Pineapple Pico de Gallo (See related recipe)

Step 1Place the rice in a colander and rinse it under cold running water until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a saucepan or rice cooker; add the water and salt; stir and cover. Bring the rice to a boil (alternatively, follow the rice cooker instructions, if using). Reduce the heat to a very slow simmer and cook the rice until tender, about 12 minutes. Let cool.

Step 2Heat the grill.

Step 3Lay out each banana leaf square on a flat work surface and brush each lightly with the olive oil. Divide the rice evenly among the leaves. Working with one leaf, mold the rice into a rectangular shape. Fold the two opposite sides of the leaf over, and then fold the other two sides to form a tight envelope package. Repeat for the remaining tamales.

Step 4Fill the bottom of a steamer or saucepan fitted with a strainer or vegetable basket with 2 to 3 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil and place the tamales in the steamer. Cover tightly with a lid or foil (it is important that no steam escapes while cooking). Steam the tamales for about 6 minutes over lightly boiling water, adding more water as needed. Remove the tamales from the steamer and set aside; do not unwrap.

Step 5Remove the shrimp from the marinade and grill them until they're firm yet still juicy, about 3 minutes; do not overcook.

Step 6Transfer the tamales to serving plates. Unwrap one side of each of the tamales to expose the rice and place the shrimp over the rice. Place the Pico de Gallo on top of the shrimp.

Note: From "Tamales" by Mark Miller, Stephen Pyles and John Sedlar (Hungry Minds, 1997). Look for banana leaves at Latino markets and Japanese rice at Asian markets.


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