Why this recipe works:
Garlic shrimp recipes seem easy—they include just shrimp, oil, garlic, and seasonings—but often feature rubbery shrimp floating in a greasy, bland sauce. We set out to create a Mexican-Style Garlic Shrimp recipe that was as good as we knew it could be. To reduce greasiness, we scaled back the olive oil in our garlic shrimp recipe. For a sweet, nutty foundation of garlic flavor, we poached 16 halved garlic cloves in oil to soften them and infuse the oil with garlic flavor. We then removed the softened cloves and mashed them into a paste, which we added to the shrimp at the end of cooking. We used the infused oil to cook the shrimp. Lime juice, lime zest, and fresh cilantro added at the end of cooking contributed brightness, while chopped jalapeño and four cloves of minced raw garlic gave the sauce a spicy bite—as well as another layer of garlic flavor.
NOTE: Buy extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) for this recipe.
16 garlic cloves, peeled and halved, plus 4 cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 pounds extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest from 2 limes
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice from 2 limes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 jalapeño chiles, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1. Heat halved garlic cloves and oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat until bubbles begin to form. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Strain garlic, reserving oil. Use side of chef’s knife to mash garlic into fine paste. (Garlic paste and oil can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day.)
2. Pat shrimp dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat reserved garlic oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Cook shrimp, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer shrimp to plate and tent with foil.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add lime juice to empty skillet and whisk in butter and garlic paste until smooth. Add cooked shrimp, minced garlic, lime zest, jalapeños, and cilantro to pan and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.