We’d been dreaming of these shrimp in the weeks leading up to our flight. On the Big Island of Hawaii, we eagerly mentioned our excitement at being on Oahu soon. We schemed and planned how many times we’d be able to make it to the North Shore and these shrimp. And once we arrived on Oahu, we couldn’t stop raving about how delicious these shrimp were to all our friends who’d travelled farther than us to be in Hawaii at the same time. Our rental mini van and sedan full of hungry travelers, we led the cavalry to battle, confident in our knowledge and “native traveler” know how.
The shrimp truck was not there.
Worse, the dirt lot normally occupied by many food trucks was roped off, with large signs spray painted with black. “Closed,” they said.
Closed. I’m pretty sure I felt a small ping of adrenaline kick in, maybe even a twinge of remorse. My fondness for seafood had been minimal at best for many years prior. And shellfish: no thank you. Then I ate these shrimp – naked cajun barbecue shrimp, with brown rice, fresh baguette, and a buttery, spicy, umami-i sauce. Hooked ever since.
Small panic subsided when, thanks to the miracle of cell phones and 3G connectivity, we found out where we could hunt down our lunch truck. We found him – Dat Cajun Guy – just north of Shark’s Cove, tucked off the side of the road.
And we ended up eating shrimp on the beach. We’re still trying to figure out what was better: our serendipity in connecting with the owner/chef over cell phone or our lunch time view.
If you’re possibly craving shrimp after that little tale, here’s my quick and tasty shrimp — not quite what we ate that afternoon in Hawaii, but tasty enough to do the trick. I honestly think it’s the butter that helps give the shrimp a bit of richness. If butter isn’t your style, olive oil is great too. If someone has done this with coconut oil, let me know…because it sounds…you know…yummy.
Salt, Pepper, Lime Shrimp (aka, I can’t believe this is a recipe)
- 1 TBS of butter per 3/4 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp
- Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
- 1 clove of of garlic
- Zest of one lime
In a medium or large non stick sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. At the garlic, cooking until fragrant, maybe 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, sprinkling with the black pepper, sea salt, and about half the lime zest. Watch for the shrimp to start to turn pink (1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan). Flip them over. Repeat the same seasoning pattern.
Remove from pan and serve with rice. Or, as pictured below, with rice and sautéed corn and red onion. You can even poor any left over cooking liquid on top.