The sixteenth-century Jesuit priest Jose de Acosta wrote a pamphlet warning Spanish explorers in Mexico and Peru not to eat the local chili peppers, describing in detail their effect in provoking lustful thoughts. The capsaicin in hot peppers can raise the heart rate, a feeling that mimics sexual arousal. See a recipe for Piri-Piri Prawns ». James Fisher

Piri-piri refers both to a kind of chile (the African bird’s-eye) and to any of a variety of spicy red sauces made with chiles in many parts of Africa.

Yield: serves 4


  • 2 lb. (about 15) large head-on, shell-on shrimp
  • 14 cup peanut oil
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 red Thai chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Indian lime pickle or lime
 wedges, for serving


  1. Working with one shrimp at a time, lay shrimp on its side. Make a 1⁄4″-deep cut along length of the shrimp on its outer side. Pull out the vein with the tip of a knife and transfer shrimp a large bowl. Repeat with remaining shrimp. Add oil, lemon and lime juices, cilantro, garlic, and chiles; toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours.
  2. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or heat a gas grill to medium-high. (Alternatively, arrange an oven rack 4″ from broiler and set oven to broil.) Transfer shrimp to a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Grill shrimp, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Serve with lime pickle or lime wedges, if you like.