The RV Chronicles — Still cooking with Ally … Sort of (Recipe: Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers)

One of the really cool things about footprints is that they can lead you on a path you never expected to follow.

It’s been almost a year since I received for review Ally’s Kitchen: A Passport for Adventurous Palates, Dr. Alice Phillips’ foray into the world of cookbooks. As I’ve done with the more than 300 cookbooks in my collection, I immediately read Phillips’ work — from the intro to the index — and decided that it is a standout in an overcrowded genre.

Remarkable, in fact.

And it’s not just because I was introduced to spices and techniques enjoyed across the globe (I keep Ally’s own signature harissa spice blend on hand at all times now — you should too), but her cookbook caused a stir in me. I explored beyond it’s pages and found a spice that just flat-out replaces my regular happy pill. Sumac.

If you’ve eaten legit Middle Eastern cuisine, you’ve likely tasted the lemony tang of this dried and ground berry. Here at the Jimmy Rockford, I’ve been using it right alongside the salt and pepper — as a marinade ingredient and sprinkled over fish and vegetables. (It’s especially good over Brussels sprouts.)

No, this spice is not the same noxious plant listed on the Bactine bottle. It’s a totally different drupe. If you live near the big city, it’s in your grocery store. If not, no worries. You can order it for a few dollars on the most popular website in the Western hemisphere (the one named for a South American river).

These quick and easy Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers are a nice introduction to the spice. Serve them by themselves as an appetizer or alongside Basmati rice and your favorite green vegetable as a light main.

Oh. And thank you Ally for the magic carpet ride.

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Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers

Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers — Fresh. Zippy. Fun.

Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers — Fresh. Zippy. Fun.

5.0 from 6 reviews
Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Lemony Sumac Shrimp Skewers — Fresh. Zippy. Fun.
Recipe type: Appetizer/Main
  • 1 lb – Extra large (16-21 ct) shrimp, deveined with tails removed
  • 3 – Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 TB – Ground sumac
  • 2 tsp – Black pepper
  • 1 tsp – Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup – Extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 TB – Chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • 6-10 Bamboo skewers (depending on how you skewer the shrimp), soaked in water for about 20 minutes
  1. In a non-reactive bowl, combine garlic, sumac, pepper, salt, olive oil and lemon juice/zest.
  2. Add shrimp and marinate for about 10 minutes.
  3. Thread shrimp onto skewers (For appetizer portions, I thread through the tail toward the head — as in the photo. You may also thread 3-4 at a time through the middle of the shrimp.)
  4. Discard marinade.
In a skillet
  1. Over medium-high heat, cook shrimp – turning regularly – until spices are slightly caramelized and shrimp are pink and opaque, about 4 minutes total.
  2. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.
On the grill
  1. Over high heat, cook shrimp – turning regularly – until spices are slightly caramelized and shrimp are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes total (maybe more or less, depending on your grill).
  2. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.



  1. There’s no one quite like Ally!! Great job on the shrimp, Holland 🙂

    • adamjholland says:

      Gracias, and you’re right, Goldstein! 🙂

    • Adam! What a great recipe AND I’m honored to be mentioned in it! You know, sumac in the Middle East IS like salt and pepper here. It’s right there on the table and sprinkled to give that extra littl’ pop that elevates even the most bland food. I LOVE your edgeeee self in the kitchen! And, you know that you and Shea are precious souls (even if I have to whip ya’ll in line sometimes! Ha ha!). I’m very grateful for your words, and even happier to have a thread of ‘influence’ in your amazing work, my friend. xoxo

      • adamjholland says:

        True that, Ally. I’m sprinkling the stuff on just about everything (including dessert). Thank you for your kind words.

  2. Great recipe! It’s time to break out the skewers for grilling and I think this is a spice that I can get everyone to eat – which is no small thing here. Thanks!

  3. So, obviously you don’t keep 300 cookbooks in the JR. ???? This one sounds great as do these shrimp. (I have been looking for a homemade harissa blend to make! Thanks!)

    • adamjholland says:

      It’s an outstanding (harissa) blend, Debra. And I’d planned on getting digital versions of all my cookbooks, but there’s something about the paper version that comforts me. I appreciate your kind words.

  4. I have some ground sumac in the spice drawer and you’ve inspired me to get it out and use it more often. I bought it for a recipe and also read that it was good on Yogurt … which I don’t eat. I really haven’t known what to do with it. Shrimp sounds like a great place to start.

    • adamjholland says:

      Lea Ann – Sprinkle it on fish, shrimp or vegetables. I’ve read that it’s also excellent on hummus.

  5. OMG Adam, this sumac shrimp look amazing!! I love sumac, but usually use it in salads! like fatouche, but this sounds sooo delicious! well done my friend!

  6. Sumac is wonderful! If you don’t want to shop at the Internet’s megamart, you can also order sumac from Penzeys Spices online. It’s a great family-run small company with wonderful customer service and reasonable prices, and their spices are always better than any I get at the local grocery store.
    Those shrimp look really good, and I still have some in the freezer from my gumbo project, so I may have to try this.

  7. Kathryn @ anotherfoodieblogger says:

    We’ve been on a huge shrimp binge lately (scored a bunch for $4.99 a pound!). I’ll have to see about ordering some of that sumac if I can’t find it locally. Looks just amazing, Adam. 🙂

    • adamjholland says:

      If you don’t love sumac, I’ll refund your subscription fee to this website. 😉 But seriously, it’s really good.


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