I like to think that my first time having Piri Piri sauce was similar to how most people outside of Portugal and Southern Africa discover it: at the restaurant chain, Nando’s, in an Edmonton strip mall.
Piri Piri is a hot-but-not-nuclear pepper. Piri Piri sauce brings plenty of fire, with a hint of sweetness and some earthiness. (everything I love in a hot sauce). As you can imagine, finding Piri Piri peppers can be difficult in certain parts of the world, but if you’re craving this vibrant sauce and don’t want to buy the pre-made bottled stuff, this recipe comes pretty close (for the record, I have nothing against the bottled stuff from time to time).
Here is why I like this recipe:
- Fresno chilies mimic Piri Piri peppers and give the sauce both sweetness and heat. Serrano chiles or other long hot chili peppers are suitable substitutes. You can also use cayenne pepper or tabasco if you prefer. As a word of caution, and speaking from experience – when working with hot pepper, make sure you wash your hands well after seeding them and be careful not to touch your face and eyes unless you want to regret life after.
- This sauce is versatile and can be used with chicken (a la Nandos), steak, or pork chops.
- You can make it ahead. The shrimp need to marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes and up to 24 hours, so you can get it ready the night before. You can serve this dish with crispy potatoes (my favorite), rice, or a nice salad (or all of the above, if you’re so inclined).
Piri Piri Shrimp Recipe
4 Fresno chilis, or 2 long hot chili peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves
Juice from 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 ½ lb uncooked, deveined, peeled shrimp (I remove the tails but will leave that up to you)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup sweet peppers cut in half lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup baby spinach or kale
Salt and pepper
½ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Lime wedges, for serving
Crispy potatoes, rice, or salad for serving
- Combine the chilis, garlic cloves, lime juice, paprika, and vinegar in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth, about one minute. Pour in 1/3 cup of olive oil and mix until thoroughly incorporated and marinade thickens slightly.
- Combine with the shrimp in a Ziploc bag or a non-reactive bowl and toss to coat. Cover the shrimp and marinate for 20 minutes, or keep in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
- When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Add the sweet peppers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally stirring, until slightly charred, then add the onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more. Once the onions are soft and translucent, add the shrimp to the pan and cook until opaque, about 2 to 4 minutes. Lastly, stir in the spinach and season with salt and pepper (to taste).
- Toss with cilantro, and serve with lime wedges over crispy potatoes or rice and/or a salad. Enjoy!
If you decide to try the recipe, let me know what you think in the comments below.