If you buy shrimp in the shell, you'll need 2 pounds. Note that the shrimp can be marinated for several hours if time permits.
6 dried red Thai chiles
12 whole black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
One 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons good-quality wine vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 pounds shelled and deveined raw medium shrimp
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Lime wedges, for serving
Grind the chiles, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon and cumin in a spice grinder. Pulse the ginger, garlic and vinegar in a blender until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender often. In a small bowl, combine the ground spices and garlic paste with the brown sugar and a generous pinch of salt. Rub this paste over the shrimp and let marinate for 30 minutes.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in each of 2 large skillets. Add half of the shrimp to each pan in a single layer and sauté over high heat until golden and just opaque throughout, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter, garnish with lime wedges and serve.
A basmati rice pilaf and sauteed spinach.
The Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg Riesling Spätlese is a delightfully aromatic and thirst-quenching foil to the rich shrimp.