This fully loaded sandwich is complete with smoky grilled shrimp, citrus-flavored mango, corn, avocado salad, and crispy fried shallots. The Grilled Harissa Shrimp Sandwich is a two-handed celebration of flavors and textures.
Dough encased perfection
Anything dough encased is getting my attention. Think of all the ethnic variations - tacos, calzones, samosas - they are all variations of the sandwich theme. Delicious fillings enwrapped. In my opinion, there are few foods that are more perfect than sandwiches.
There are many advantages of eating sandwiches. An assortment of ingredients can be stacked. A sandwich can be cold or hot, thick or thin, dainty or hearty. It is the culinary equivalent to a blank canvas. And that is where the idea for the Grilled Harissa Shrimp Sandwich began.
For some reason, sandwiches always sound like a good meal to me during warm weather. Maybe it is the portability. You can pick up and go with your sandwich to the park or the beach for a picnic. But I think it is also the ease with which you can eat a sandwich. You don't need to be sitting at a table and you don't need silverware. And sometimes you don't need two hands. But for this sandwich, you may want to use both of your hands!
Spicy, smoky, and garlicky grilled shrimp - what a filling. The shrimp are marinated in a combination of minced garlic, harissa powder, honey, and olive oil. There is a lot going on there - the amount of harissa is up to you (maybe you want the shrimp to be a little spicier than my version). A lot of minced garlic is what I like to add for a scampy type of treatment. The honey adds nice caramelization when grilling the shrimp.
The important step in this recipe is the timing of grilling the shrimp. It only takes about 1 ½ - 2 minutes a side to grill the shrimp. Cooked properly, the shrimp will snap when bitten into. If cooked too long, they will get rubbery and hard. Turning pink is the clue that the shrimp are close to being done. Look at the inside curve of the shrimp to make sure you don't see gray uncooked shellfish and that it is entirely cooked.
Crunchy shallots = texture with flavor. These little onion rings add the right amount of crispy, crunchy bits to the sandwich. I slice the shallots very thinly with a mandolin. You can use a knife but make sure that the slices are very thin. I toss the rings lightly in a little flour. Not too much. It will only burn in the hot oil when you fry the shallots. Make sure to salt the rings when you remove them from the oven.
Fruity, Tropical, Creamy, Citrus
The bright flavors of the salad/relish complement the grilled shrimp perfectly. The cool and tropical flavors of the mango tame the heat of the harissa. The zest and juice of lime add brightness. The corn adds roasty flavor as well as a pop of texture. And lastly, the avocado has that lovely creaminess. All ingredients add up to a full-on blast of flavor.
Bringing it all together
Pick a nice crusty roll that will handle the juicy salad/relish. Any bread that is too soft will start to disintegrate from the juice. I enjoy adding fresh and crisp lettuce. Again, add something with a little heft like romaine that will stand up to the other ingredients.
I think it helps to toast the inside of the roll. I put the lettuce on the bottom, followed by the crispy shallots, shrimp next, and lastly the mango, corn, avocado salad/relish on top.
Jump right in, two-handed, and take a bite - try to get all flavors and textures in one bite. The spicy smoky shrimp, the cool tropical mango, roasty corn, creamy avocado, and the crunchy shallots are a zesty combination. And the perfect, portable food!
Grilled Harissa Shrimp Sandwich
- grill or grill pan
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp I used 26-30 count. Use whatever size you prefer.
- 2 cloves garlic minced, 1 teaspoon
- 1 ½ teaspoons harissa powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 shallots large
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
Mango, Corn, and Avocado Salad
- 1 mango
- 1 ear of corn
- ½ avocado
- 1 lime zest and juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- pinch black pepper
- 6 sandwich rolls
- leafy green lettuce
- Peel and devein shrimp. Make sure to remove any grit when deveining the shrimp.
- Combine minced garlic, harissa powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Stir in the honey to create a paste.
- Whisk the olive oil into the paste. Add the shrimp, tossing to make sure that every piece is coated with the marinade. Occasionally stir the shrimp to redistribute the marinade.
- Slice shallots very thinly. it is best to use a mandolin if you have one. Toss the shallots in the flour, creating a thin coating.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a small piece of shallot to the oil to test if it is hot enough to fry. Once there are small bubbles around the edges of your test shallot, add more.
- Don't crowd the pan - add enough shallots to create a single layer. It only takes 1 ½ - 2 minutes to fry the shallots. Once they are brown, remove the shallots with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined dish. Sprinkle with salt.
- Add more flour-coated shallots to the skillet and continue to fry. You will see excess flour on the bottom of the skillet. If the oil is too low in the pan and the shallots don't float, add more oil. Just make sure to let it come to temperature.
Mango, corn, and avocado salad
- Place the ear of corn on top of a burner with the flame on high. You can also put the corn under a broiler to roast it. If you are using a grill, place the corn on the rack to roast. Make sure it is not over a hot flame. You want the corn roasty, not totally black. Once the ear is cooked, let it cool, and then cut the corn off the cob.
- Cut the mango into small dice and add to a medium-sized bowl. Repeat with the avocado half.
- Add the corn when it is cooled off and stir to combine. Add the zest and juice of one lime. Season with salt and pepper.
Grill the shrimp
- Now it is time to skewer the shrimp. Don't crowd the shrimp onto the skewer. It won't cook evenly. If you do not have a grill or grill pan, you can use a broiler to cook the shrimp. You could also use a cast iron pan to cook the shrimp, which in this case, you do not need to use skewers.
- It takes about 1 ½ - 2 minutes per side to cook the shrimp. If you have larger shrimp, it may take a little longer. Once they are pink, opaque, and feel firm to the touch, the shrimp are cooked. Check the inside curve of the shrimp to make sure the shellfish isn't uncooked and gray. They should have a snap when you bite into one. Try not to overcook the shrimp - they will have the texture of a rubber ball.
Assemble the sandwich
- Cut a sandwich roll in half and toast. Add some lettuce to the bottom half of the roll. Sprinkle a layer of crispy shallots over the lettuce. Now add the shrimp - how it up to you!
- Finish the sandwich with the mango salad on top of the shrimp. Add the top of the toasted roll.