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Courtesy Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau
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  • Servings: 4-6

Pepper “swims,” or shrimp seasoned with chile peppers, are sold by shrimp vendors on the roadside and at stoplights in various parts of the island. Served at room temperature out of little plastic bags, they make for a tasty, quick, “smoke out of the ears” snack when journeying around Jamaica. Middle Quarters, in the parish of St. Elizabeth on the south coast, is particularly well known for its pepper swims.


1 pound (16 or 20 count) fresh shrimp, in shells with heads on
2 tablespoons sea salt
2 cups vegetable oil
1 Scotch bonnet, chopped with seeds
6 cloves garlic, diced
1⁄4 cup sliced scallions
1 teaspoon sugar


1.   Butterfly the shrimp and remove the veins but leave the shells and heads on. Place in a bowl and rub the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the salt; let sit for at least 30 minutes.

2.   Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. In batches, add the shrimp and deep-fry for 40 to 60 seconds, then quickly remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. When all the shrimp have been deep-fried, pour the oil out of the pan, leaving just 1 tablespoon.

3.   In small batches, quickly sauté the Scotch bonnet, garlic, scallions, sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon sea salt over high heat for a few seconds. Add the shrimp in batches, give it a quick toss to coat with the seasoning and remove quickly from the pan; repeat until all the shrimp are finished. Serve immediately.

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