I bet you’re like me. Every year, you resolve to lose weight, but you get sick of counting and measuring and being hungry and giving up your favorite foods and having to cook something else for your family and eating diet food, created by insane people who think that their mixture of edamame, Brussels sprouts, cranberries and TVP tastes JUST LIKE Crunch ‘n Munch/Chili-Cheese Fritos®/Goo-Goo Cluster ice cream, etc.

You know what I’m talking about.

This year, I’m on a mission to find healthy foods that don’t suck. That doesn’t mean I won’t be posting things like chicken pot pie, caramelized onion and goat cheese focaccia and candy apple pie, but when I find something that’s delicious and healthy, I’m sharing that, too. And I’m kicking it off with Chipotle-Lime Glazed Shrimp.

I’m a Southerner, and we love fried shrimp, but recently I’ve discovered the wonders of pan-searing with glazes for added flavor. Pan-searing uses high heat to form a crust on the meat and seal in its juices, so when you pan-sear shrimp, it doesn’t get limp or rubbery. You get the benefits of fried shrimp without the breading and deep-frying.

Avoiding limp shrimp requires to things: a large skillet (at least 12 inches, preferably cast-iron) and cooking the shrimp in two batches. You want the shrimp to have plenty of space in the pan, because overcrowding leads to  steaming instead of searing.

The only problem with searing in two batches is keeping everything warm, but this recipe has a solution. Sear the first batch of shrimp on one side for one minute, then take the pan off the heat, flip the shrimp, and let it cook using only the pan’s residual heat for 30 seconds. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate. You’ll repeat the process with the second batch, but instead of transferring the shrimp to a plate, you’ll add the first batch back into the skillet (but still off the heat), add the glaze, toss to combine and cover the skillet for one to two minutes.

So, the total cooking time for pan-searing more than one pound of shrimp is less than five minutes.

The glaze is a mixture of minced chipotle chile, adobo sauce, a little brown sugar, lime juice and cilantro. It gives the shrimp a nice kick without being completely overpowering, and it’s a nice change from the usual garlicky or lemony shrimp. If you’re playing around, you might also try a ginger-hoisin glaze.

These Chipotle-Lime Glazed Shrimp are excellent over rice or stuffed into soft tacos, and they are very filling. If you love Mexican food but wouldn’t mind lightening it up a little, give these shrimp a try.

Happy 2009, and here’s to finding more healthy foods that don’t suck!

Pan-Seared Shrimp with Chipotle-Lime Glaze

From “Cook’s Illustrated”

Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds 21/25 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  1. For Glaze: Stir together chipotle chile, adobo sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and cilantro in small bowl.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking.
  3. Meanwhile, toss shrimp, salt, pepper, and sugar in medium bowl.
  4. Add half of shrimp to the pan in single layer, and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 1 minute.
  5. Remove pan from heat; using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to large plate.
  6. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and shrimp.
  7. After the second batch has stood off heat, return the first batch to skillet, add chipotle mixture, and toss to combine. Cover skillet and let stand until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.