A little heat tempered by avocado – spicy shrimp and guacamole appetizer

spicy shrimp and guacamole

spicy shrimp and guacamole

Spring is a perfect time for freshness but also for a bit of heat.  Here’s a great shrimp appetizer to serve to your guests that has a little bit of kick but is gently tempered by some refreshing guacamole.   The secret to cooking this shrimp is the addition of a homemade sweet and spicy chill sauce.

There are three parts to preparing this appetizer, in addition to cooking the shrimp, you will have to make guacamole and prepare the sweet and spicy chili sauce.  It does take a little work, but thankfully the sweet and spicy chili sauce and the guacamole can both be prepared in advance.   You then just need to cook the shrimp before you’re ready to serve your guests.  This is not a complicated recipe, it just involves a lot of chopping and mincing.  However I guarantee that the efforts you put behind this will be worth it!

Serves 4

spicy shrimp and guacamole

spicy shrimp and guacamole

sweet and spicy chili sauce

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ cup ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons hot red pepper, seeded and minced
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon lemon rind, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon lime rind, finely grated
  • salt to taste
  1. Add sesame oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add ginger, garlic, shallots and hot red peppers and sauté until softened for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and water to the pan and stir gently until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Let sauce simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until sauce has slightly thickened and has slightly darkened in colour.  No need to stir as the sugar could crystallize.
  4. Transfer sauce to a bowl, and add lemon and lime rind.
  5. Let it cool and season with salt to taste.

You will have enough of the sauce for another meal, as this makes about 3/4 cup, and you can keep this sauce in the refrigerator for about 5 days.


  • 2 avocadoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • ½ red pepper, seeded and minced
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sweet and spicy chili sauce as per recipe above
  • salt to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a medium bowl and roughly mash together.
  2. Season with salt and refrigerate until needed.    To keep in refrigerator cover the surface of guacamole very tightly with plastic wrap to ensure there is no air.  This will allow you to keep the guacamole for up to a day in the refrigerator.


  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 8 large uncooked shrimps with tail, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tablespoons sweet and spicy chili sauce as per recipe above
  • cilantro, finely chopped for garnish
  1. Heat a medium frying pan over high heat and add sesame oil to pan.
  2. Then add shrimp and sauté with a little kosher salt.  When shrimp is halfway cooked, after 1-2 minutes or so, add the 2 tablespoons of the sweet and spicy chili sauce and caramelize for about another minute.  Remove from heat.
  3. To serve place 2 tablespoons of guacamole on a small plate and top with two or three shrimps depending on the quantity of shrimp you have cooked.  Garnish with cilantro and serve.

It’s quite pleasant with a glass of chilled white wine, my preference being a sancerre blanc!

spring time appetizer – crab, shrimp and avocado salad with finger lime caviar

shrimp, crab and avocado appetizer

shrimp, crab and avocado appetizer

The first signs of spring signal the arrival of fresh snow crab here in Montreal, which means it’s a great time for crab cakes or one of my favourite combination of ingredients, a salad of crab, shrimp and avocado.   Now there are many different interpretations of these three ingredients but here’s a fresh take which will be a lot more exciting for your tastebuds.

You can also add another level of texture to this recipe by topping the salad with finger lime caviar beads.  The finger lime is a cylindrical citrus fruit originating from Australia.  The fruit is filled with caviar beads of pink or green color, which has a juice that is acidic and similar to that of a lime.  They are not easy to find because of its Australian origin, however the availability of the finger lime is expanding as they are now being grown and harvested in California.  Adding finger limes to this recipe is a lot more fun than a lime wedge as the little beads pop and burst and ouze lime juice as you eat them.

finger lime caviar

finger lime caviar

This recipe is easy as 1, 2, 3, as it only requires cutting and mixing the ingredients.  The only time-consuming effort in this recipe is picking the crab meat from fresh cooked crab shells.  However you can skip this step and save yourself some time by buying fresh lump crabmeat from the grocery store that is pre-packaged and pasteurized.  Obviously you wouldn’t use this stuff for a seafood platter however it’s perfect for this type of salad or a crab cake.  When refrigerated and unopened this pasteurized crab meat can last up to a year or so, however when opened it has to be eaten within 3 to 5 days.

Recipe serves 2


  • 1 mango, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced and few sprigs for garnish
  • ½ jalapeno chile, minced
  • ½ shallot, finely minced
  • salt and ground pepper
  • 4 – 6 cooked medium sized shrimps, peeled and diced
  • ¼ cup fresh crabmeat, picked and shredded (or pasteurized lump crabmeat)
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • finger lime caviar from 2 finger limes (optional)
  • lime wedges for serving
crab, shrimp and avocado appetizer

crab, shrimp and avocado appetizer

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix diced mango, olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno and shallot.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add shrimp and crabmeat to bowl and combine.
  3. In small serving vessels or bowls first layer crab mixture, then spoon avocado on top and garnish with finger lime caviar or lime wedge if finger limes are not available.  Then top with a cilantro sprigs and serve immediately.

Voila!  Makes for an easy appetizer anytime of the week.