Whiskey Piri Piri Shrimp

Whiskey Piri Piri Shrimp.
Photo By Con Poulos / Food Styling by Hadas Smirnof

Courtesy Rick DiVirgilio, chef/owner, OPORTO Fooding House & Wine and OPORTO Wine Café, Houston.

DiVirgilio’s family is from the island of Madeira, whose seafood-focused cuisine and local wine are showcased in this dish. Piri piri sauce is a pantry staple in Portugal as well as its former colonies in southern Africa. Piri piri, or African bird’s eye chili, was introduced to Europe and Asia via Portuguese spice traders. DiVirgilio’s unique version keeps at least a month in the fridge. You’ll find yourself adding it to everything.

Four Fresh Takes on Portuguese Cooking
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced onions
  • 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 12 colossal (about 10 per pound) shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup Madeira wine (preferably the slightly sweet styles of Verdelho or Rainwater)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Whiskey Piri Piri (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Warm large skillet over high heat, and coat with olive oil. Add onion and garlic. Cook until soft and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add shrimp in single layer, and sprinkle with salt. Cook about 30 seconds, then flip each shrimp. Add Madeira and lemon juice, and cook another 30 seconds. Add piri piri, and stir gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced and shrimp are barely opaque in the center, about 1 minute. Transfer to plates and sprinkle with cilantro. Serves 2.

Ingredients for Whiskey Piri Piri
  • 9 guajillo chilies
  • 8 árbol or bird’s eye chilies
  • ½ cup roasted red peppers
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Whiskey Piri Piri Directions

Using gloves, de-stem chilies. Cut slit down one side of chili, and remove seeds. Transfer chilies to food processor, and blend until almost powder. Add remaining ingredients, and blend until smooth. Let sit at least 8 hours to thicken and blend flavors. Makes 1½ cups.

Pair It

Portal da Calçada 2016 Reserva (Vinho Verde). “I love a Vinho Verde with the shrimp piri piri,” says DiVirgilio. “The light citrus and acidity help to balance all the intense flavors in the dish.”


Published on September 22, 2017
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net

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