Welcome to my lesson on pepper shrimp. Now pepper shrimp is one of my favorite snacks. In the Bronx, they would have them in little packets at all the markets and they were shrimp that were preserved in this really spicy dressing. That’s why it’s called pepper shrimp. You can get it on the beaches in Hellshire. You can also get it on the roads. I’ve found that when I’m going from Montego Bay to Kingston, they’ll knock on the glass and serve these little packets of pepper shrimp. So I’m gonna grab some of my shrimp and some shrimp stock. The shrimp stock is gonna help build that sauce to preserve that shrimp. I’m gonna grab some scotch bonnets. All right. So I’m just gonna get a little tray ’cause this is the only thing that’s really going in here that’s fresh. I’m just gonna slice this into nice thin strips. This whole room’s gonna start coughing in a second. I promise you. So I like this dish spicy, it’s supposed to be really spicy. If you don’t want it that spicy, don’t use as much scotch bonnet or replace it with another pepper that you can handle like jalapeno or something. All right, let’s go. I’m gonna get my shrimp. I’m gonna get my vinegar, little annatto seeds. And this has been ground with some allspice. This is gonna give it some color and some flavor as well. So I’m gonna start by building my sauce and I’m gonna add my shrimp to that. So I’m gonna add some shrimp stock. And then I’m gonna add my scotch bonnet pepper. Some annatto. Some all-purpose seasoning. And some salt. And a touch of vinegar. Then I’ll let this come to a boil. I’m just gonna let it simmer and then I’m gonna add my shrimp, and it shouldn’t take too much time. This is a really, really quick dish. It’s good because it acts like a preservation method as well, all that heat and that vinegar will let this dish hold for up to four days, five days in your fridge. Now, if you add a lot more heat, you can let this sit out of room temperature. When I used to go to the markets in the Bronx, they weren’t refrigerated at all. They were just cooled down and they sat at room temperature for God knows how long, but they were fresh. They never got me sick, and it’s something that I really enjoy to this day. So now that this is simmering, I’m gonna add my shrimp. So the shrimp normally always have the shells on. They normally have the heads on, but it’s not always accessible so if you can’t find the head-on shrimp, you can use these here. If they have the heads on, they have way more flavor. That’s why people use head-on shrimp, but these are fine as is. I’m just gonna flip these shrimp halfway through. You still paying attention? Now let’s plate. Now this can be cooled. You can package it, eat it while you’re on the beach. You don’t have to eat it right now. Honestly, the longer it sits in this liquid and this beautiful broth, the better it gets. It’s electrifying, so be careful. And there you have it, classic pepper shrimp. Enjoy with a beer, enjoy with a friend, enjoy with a smile.
Kwame Onwuachi started peeling shrimp and stirring roux at 5 years old in his mother’s catering kitchen in the Bronx. The James Beard Award-winning chef has received many accolades since then, including FOOD & WINE’S Best New Chef, Esquire Magazine’s 2019 Chef of the Year, 30 Under 30 honoree by both Forbes and Zagat, and has appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef as both a contestant and judge. In his class, Onwuachi embraces the richness of Afro-Caribbean culture and cuisine, and teaches students how to cook his favorite Jamaican recipes.