At the risk of sounding too self-serving, I have to say that this dish is just magnificent. I made a beef version and served both shrimp and beef lemongrass skewers for the same meal but, really, the beef version is nowhere as good as the shrimp lemongrass skewers. That means the beef lemongrass skewers will need to be tweaked, but this is ready to be shared with the world.
Dishes with chicken, meat or seafood wrapped around lemongrass stalks and grilled are found all over Southeast Asia. The seasonings vary by region but the cooking method stays the same. The hot and dry season is in full swing in the tropics and while that may conjure images of perfect weather for outdoor grilling, as far as we’re concerned, it’s much too punishing for outdoor cooking.
Meanwhile, there’s the air fryer and it can be used in an air-conditioned kitchen. And transforming a recipe that traditionally calls for grilling into one that only requires an air fryer means the recipe stays good any time of the year.
The first step in making shrimp lemongrass skewers is to prep your lemongrass. Cut off the roots. Measure six inches from the root end, and cut and discard the upper portion.
Then, you prep the shrimps and spices. Peel and deveine the shrimps, roughly chop and dump into a food processor. Add garlic, onion, ginger, cilantro stems and roots, chili and fish sauce. Process until the mixture turns into a coarse paste.
Transfer the shrimp mixture into a bowl and mix in two tablepoons of bread crumbs. The crumbs will soak up excess moisture, soften and act as a binder to help prevent the shrimp paste from falling apart during cooking.
Then, you lightly pound each lemongrass stalk. This little step while seemingly superfluous really does a lot for the dish. The pounding releases the aroma of the lemongrass. It also allows the lemongrass juices to seep into the shrimp mixture during air frying.
Take about two tablespoons of the shrimp mixture and flatten it on your hand. Position a lemongrass stalk on top then close your hand to enfold the lemongrass stalk with the shrimp mixture. Do the same with the rest of the lemongrass and shrimp mixture.
Spray oil on the air fryer rack then arrange the shrimp lemongrass skewers in a single layer at least an inch apart. Lightly spray the tops of the shrimp lemongrass skewers with oil. This will give them better color and texture. Set the temperature at 190C and the cooking time to 12 minutes.
And there you have it. Air fried shrimp lemongrass skewers. A pity, really, that I only used 250 grams of shrimps. I should have doubled it because this is such a delightful dish.
Air fried shrimp lemongrass skewers
- 5 to 6 lemongrass stalks
- 250 grams shrimps - peeled, deveined and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic - peeled and sliced or chopped
- 1 one-inch knob ginger - peeled and sliced or chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stems and roots
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1 bird's eye chili - thinly sliced (discard the seeds for less heat)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons panko - or other unsweetened bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 pinch chopped onion
- 1 bird's eye chili - sliced
- 1 clove garlic - sliced and julienned
- 1 slice ginger - julienned
- Rinse the lemongrass stalks thoroughly and snip off the roots.
- Measure six inches from the root ends of the lemongrass and cut. Discard the top portions or reserve for making soup.
- Using the blunt side of a heavy knife, pound the lemongrass stalks lightly.
- Place the shrimps, garlic, ginger, cilantro, onion, chili and fish sauce in a food processor.
- Process until no large pieces remain and the mixture has acquired the texture of a coarse paste.
- Mix the panko into the shrimp mixture.
- Flatten two tablespoons of the shrimp mixture on one hand, place a lemongrass stalk at the middle, then fold your hand to completely wrap the lemongrass in the shrimp mixture.
- Spray or brush the air fryer rack with oil.
- Arrange the shrimp lemongrass skewers on the rack in a single layer at least an inch apart then spray or brush the tops with oil.
- Set the air fryer temperature to 190C and the cooking time for 12 minutes.
- Stir together all the ingredients for the dipping sauce.
- Transfer the shrimp lemongrass skewers to a plate.
- Serve with lime wedges and dipping sauce on the side.