My trip to the local Farmers Market (Port Royal) this past weekend was quite successful. Not only did I snag some tasty and beautiful greens, carrots and radish but also something that is probably unusual to most folks, although I would bet most Americans eat it in one form or another every day. As I turned the corner at the market after my inaugural “once through” I spied a few pieces of something carelessly laying in the back of one farmer’s pick up truck.
I have been on the look out for this specific item since I started this blog and there it was! I immediately beelined it for the farmer, inquiring about said item. “Oh yeah, sure they’re for sale. A dollar a stalk.“ he replied. My heart leapt with joy…finally I have a whole stalk of real sugar cane!
Once I procured the “cane” I made my way through the jammed packed crowd, and felt many eyes on my sugar cane. I’m sure I heard at least one “What is that?” as a stalk of sugar cane is large – a good 5 feet plus. Not something you can tuck into a reusable market bag. But my head was reeling with ideas and I had to get back home. No time to strike up a conversation and besides the next question would be, “So what DO you do with that?” and honestly at this point, I had no definitive answer.
During my formative years there always seemed to be sugar cane around our house or at our neighbors, who were real honest-to goodness farmers by the way. As kids we would eat it as a snack – it’s basically pure sugar after all, so of course one did not refuse sugar cane. You could also use it to whack the ever lovin’ you-know-what out of someone. Even then it was more of a novelty, although I have been to a few folk-life festivals in Georgia where they actually go through the sugar making process to get (sulfured) molasses and well, sugar. Let’s just say it is a long, arduous, process. Be grateful for the 5 lb bag (Now 4 lb!) conveniently purchased at your local Publix or Kroger or Whole Foods or what have you.
Anyway, my sugar cane and I proceeded home where I tested Dear Hubby on knowing what this ‘thing’ was that I had purchased, and by golly, he got it right. Then I showed Girly Girl the sugar cane, explaining that the white sugar I make cookies and cupcakes with comes from this plant. Needless to say she was flabbergasted. She was further surprised when I whacked off a section with a large knife and a hammer, peeled back the bark and chewed on the pulpy inside. Let’s just say Mommy earned some coolness points with all this!
So after some thinking and pondering and a trip to the seafood market I came up with the idea of using the sugar cane to skewer some shrimp (which is not new, I realize) and making a glaze from the sugar cane juice. The fact that our weather was a lovely 75 degrees, added to our keen urge to grill so we were off to the races…
I served the shrimp with a super fresh and healthy “slaw” featuring those local carrots and radish from the farmers market plus under ripe pears and a light coriander dressing. If you dislike mayo or cook for someone who does (like me – Dear Hubby hates mayo) then this will make everyone happy. Plus it makes me feel better about indulging in these bacon-hugging shrimp!
Sugar cane citrus grilled shrimp – with an oink!
- ¼ cup sugar cane “juice”
- juice ½ of a large fresh lemon
- juice of ½ of a large, ripe fresh lemon
- ½ tsp (or more!) Vindaloo seasoning
- 1 dozen extra large or jumbo fresh shrimp, peeled with tails left on
- 12 sugar cane ‘sticks’
- 6-12 slices thick bacon, excess fat removed*
To make the cane “juice” chop up about 2 sections of peeled sugar cane. Place this is 2/3 cup of water in a saucepan and heat until boiling. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook like this for at least one hour. Stir occasionally and when the liquid has reduced to about ¼ cup remove from the heat.
With a heavy duty food processor grind the sugar cane stalks and the liquid using the highest speed to get a fine pulp. Place a mesh strainer over a medium bowl and pour the sugar cane pulp/liquid into it. With clean hands squeeze the pulp to release the juice (much like squeezing cooked spinach). Discard the dry pulp left in the strainer. You should have about ¼ cup juice.
Mix this juice with the lemon and orange juices and the Vindaloo seasoning. Set aside.
Skewer each shrimp with a sugar cane stick (cut ends of each stick at an angle for easier skewering). Skewer all the shrimp and then wrap each with bacon securing with an extra toothpick if necessary. Place the shrimp in the refrigerator while preparing your grill.
When grill is very hot, remove shrimp from the frig and place on the hot grill. Brush with the vindaloo/sugar cane mixture and grill about 3 minutes. Turn over and again brush with the vindaloo/sugar cane mixture. Continue to grill until the bacon is cooked, avoiding burning them or over cooking the shrimp. Take off the grill, remove any toothpicks and watch them disappear! And the sugar cane skewers are edible so that’s a conversation topic for your next dinner party!
* On a diet? You can also leave off the bacon and simply grill the shrimp on the sugar cane skewers without the added “oink” calories and fat. It is still excellent!
Sugar cane was about as far away from my childhood as you can get. I drank fresh sugar cane juice for the first time about a month ago, here in the UAE. Surprisingly refreshing and delicious. Great instructions on what to do with it.
Thanks for your comment Sally. It’s a little trouble to extract but worth it I think.