Harissa Shrimp and Dill Yogurt Dip

Nik Sharma

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When it comes to sports, I’ll admit I’m ignorant, I don’t watch sports on TV, and trying to convince me to attend a ball game is a futile exercise (Michael’s and a few of my friends have tried a gazillion times and failed). But what I do look forward to and enjoy is the food served at games and sports events. The Super Bowl is one of those days I look forward to each year. No, I don’t know which teams are playing, and I could care less; I come for the food. Oh wait, I do watch halftime for the performers, that’s the other bit I’m excited about.

Sports food is fun and casual; there are no pretenses, it doesn’t need to be artfully arranged like spots of sauce on a plate that resembles a puzzle where you wonder where to begin connecting the dots. Bold flavors predominate the sport’s food landscape, something I appreciate immensely. You snack, you laugh, you cry (depending on how your team fares), and everyone is

At our home, we have an unspoken rule. I cook whatever Michael wants for the game and spend my time doing whatever I want to do during that period. This year will be slightly different, I’m traveling for work, and he’ll be making his own Super Bowl snacks. To make things a bit easier, I’ve stocked him up with a few condiments, spices, and seasoning blends that I know will make his life easier if he decides to make some wings or ribs. Truthfully, I’m also watching out for myself and my kitchen things; I don’t want to come home to a disaster.

One of the snacks I’ve made (for Michael to make on Sunday) for the Super Bowl this year is this wonderfully easy harissa shrimp recipe that comes together very quickly and is lip and finger smacking good. There’s a yogurt-based dip that utilizes fresh dill and garlic for flavor. If you aren’t familiar with harissa, it’s a condiment made from hot chillies and caraway (harissa occupies a permanent position in my kitchen, I think at present, I’ve got six different varieties) that originated in North Africa. In grocery stores, you’ll find several different types of harissa, some hotter than others, some flavored with rose, and others with lemon.

Dip and enjoy, and may the best team win! (Yeah, I still have no idea who is playing this weekend).

Harissa Shrimp and Dill Yogurt Dip

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The Cook’s Notes

  • I used the Rosey Harissa seasoning blend from New York Shuk in this recipe, but any harissa will work. This particular one is a dry spice blend; however, if you’ve got harissa paste at home, that will work here as well (use 1 to 2 Tbsp depending on how hot it is). Two other favorites include – the one made by Mina and the other by Cookbook in Los Angeles (this one is hot).

  • Know your harissa. I’ve noticed a massive difference between harissa heat levels across different brands. If the harissa you’re working with is too hot or too weak in its heat levels for you, adjust the quantity (heat lovers, add some ground cayenne).

  • Since the shrimp marinade has salt and lime juice, do not exceed the marination time listed in the recipe, or the shrimp proteins will start to cure in the acid and salt (just like ceviche), which will affect the texture on cooking (and not in a good way).

Makes 4 servings

For the Dip

½ cup/120g plain unsweetened Greek yogurt

½ ripe/about 90g small avocado pulp, diced

2 garlic cloves

1 green chilli such as jalapeño or serrano

¼ cup/2.5g chopped dill plus a little extra for garnish

3 Tbsp/45ml lime or lemon juice

3 to 4 Tbsp water (you might use it all or just a little bit)

Fine sea salt

For the Shrimp

2 garlic cloves, grated

4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp harissa (See The Cook’s Notes)

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp fresh lime or lemon juice

1 lb/455g raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on

Fine sea salt

1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

First, prepare the dip. Blend the yogurt, avocado, garlic, chilli, dill, and lime juice over high speed until smooth in a blender. Add 1 to 2 Tbsp of water or more as needed to help the ingredients move in the blender. Taste and season with salt. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with extra dill, and keep chilled until ready to use. This dip tastes best the day it’s made.

Next, prepare the shrimp. Mix the garlic, 2 Tbsp of the olive oil, harissa, tomato paste, and lime juice in a medium mixing bowl. Add the shrimp, season with salt, and fold to coat well. Cover with a lid and let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a cast-iron or stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat when ready to cook. Add the shrimp to the hot skillet and cook on each side until they turn pink, 3 to 4 minutes. If the tomato paste makes it tricky to assess the color change, cut a piece of shrimp to see if the flesh has turned tender and opaque white on the inside and the outer surface and tail end pink. Transfer the hot shrimp to a serving dish and serve with the yogurt dill dip and the extra lime wedges on the side.

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