The cult of bay shrimp (catching them, cooking them) is big down here on the Gulf Coast. As natives, we were inculcated young–like, when we cut our first teeth. They’re a little bit sweet, a lot salty and, when boiled/baked/grilled with their shells on, nothing tastes better.

Drowning our sweet & salty babies in creamy sauces or too-spicy rubs would be a crime. Why not let the natural flavors shine through w simple prep and a little love on the grill? Shrimp cooked in their shells are harder to over cook and won’t become tough or rubbery.

Here, we place the hot shrimp on sliced tomatoes and avocadoes, just warming through the veggies thus drawing out their natural flavor. Charred lemons are a chef’s elegant touch to give each bite an amazing tartness and smoky flavor.

for the shrimp:
2 lbs shrimp, shell-on and deveined*
2 lemons, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

for the salad:
1/2 vidalia or red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon picked dill leaves
good quality olive oil for drizzling
coarse sea salt

*Devein the shrimp, leaving the shells on, before marinating. Hold the shrimp between your thumb and forefinger, then insert the tip of a paring knife between the flesh and shell with the blade facing toward the shell. Carefully work the knife down the length of the shrimps back, splitting the shell and making a small incision down the back of the shrimp. The vein should now be visible. Remove each vein and place the cleaned shrimp in a bowl to be marinated.

Add the lemons, dill, garlic, olive oil, salt and few grinds of pepper to the bowl of shrimp. Toss well to coat the shrimp with the marinade. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until ready to cook. There shrimp may marinate for anywhere from 1 to 24 hours.

30 minutes before eating, remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and preheat the grill.

Combine the thinly sliced onions and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside.

Cut the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices and season lightly with salt and pepper. Set the sliced tomatoes on a baking lined with a clean kitchen towel to drain any excess moisture.

When ready to serve, pat the seasoned tomatoes dry and arrange on a large platter. Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit and scoop each side from its skin. Cut the avocado into slices and arrange on top of the tomatoes. Scatter the marinated onions and fresh dill over the tomatoes and avocado and drizzle with good olive oil.

Set the plater of tomatoes and avocado next to the preheated grill.

Give the marinated shrimp another toss to coat, then drain off any excess liquid or oil that has accumulated in the bowl. Empty the entire bowl onto a hot grill and quickly spread out into a single layer. Allow the shrimp to cook for about 2 minutes, then turn and cook 2 minutes more. When the shrimp are cooked through- bright pink and no look of tranlucence where they were deveined- remove them from the grill and place on the platter with the vegetables. When all of the grilled shrimp and lemons are on the platter give the whole thing a final drizzle of good olive oil. Garnish with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and serve immediately.