Shrimp Scampi is simply an Italian dish that’s been around since the 1950s in the United States. It’s served at many Italian restaurants as well as regions across the south and southeast where fresh shrimp is readily available.
Shrimp with their heads and shells are easy to get in Louisiana and other southern coastal states, but not in many other parts of the country. When shopping for shrimp, aim to buy them with their heads. If fresh uncooked shrimp is not available in the area, at least buy them with without their shells and heads.
Buying shrimp with their heads makes shrimp dishes, like shrimp scampi, rich, full, and sweet tasting. If you’re a shrimp lover, or hosting an special evening dinner party, I highly recommend getting fresh shrimp shipped in locally. Many fish and seafood markets around the country DO ship fresh shrimp into their market. Just ask them next time you visit. Otherwise, we often ship shrimp home to our family and friends from our favorite local seafood shop in Louisiana called Captain Sid’s Seafood in Bucktown, Metairie. I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived just down the street from them for 8 years.
Fresh Gulf Coat Shrimp
In Louisiana, there is a bounty of fresh seafood available from the Gulf, bayous, rivers, and lakes. The seasons are counted by what seafood is freshly available. There’s shrimp season, crawfish season, oyster season, and crab season. I’d by lying if I said I didn’t miss the smell of a crawfish boil wafting through the neighborhood in spring. Nevermind all of the fond memories of a seafood boil with friends, family, and even neighbors. I sure do miss those mindful beautiful days. We’ve offered our home to our dear friends coming to New Orleans with an appetite for shrimp. Fried shrimp, shrimp etouffee, shrimp Creole, shrimp po’boys, shrimp scampi, shrimp and grits, and barbecue shrimp. I could go on for hours of all the wonderful restaurants New Orleans has to offer. Especially while enjoying it in good company. Then, in just a couple minutes, life changes and you find it pushes new plans ahead without so little as an explanation. Next, you’re living in your home state watching reruns of Anthony Bourdain: “No Reservations” and Andrew Zimmern without any fresh shrimp! Oh, how I miss you Louisiana. I hope you will enjoy my fiancés shrimp scampi recipe.
How to Make Shrimp Scampi
- Saute shrimp for a couple minutes on each side.
- Saute garlic.
- Stir in seasonings and wine.
- Simmer sauce until reduced and thickened.
- Add butter, lemon, and parsley.
- Serve with pasta.
Other options to serve with The Best Shrimp Scampi. I like a crusty French bread loaf heated in the oven. In addition, vegetables like broccoli, zucchini, a crispy Italian salad, or brussels sprouts make this into a hearty meal. Serve with a glass of white wine.
Ingredients in Shrimp Scampi
Shrimp: By all means, use fresh shrimp if it’s available in your area. Some seafood and fish markets will ship fresh shrimp in. Simply call ahead of time and talk to someone behind the counter. My fiancé prefers jumbo shrimp because they are fat and juicy and make and include a ton of protein in the meal. Using frozen shrimp also works in this recipe and is very easy to get across the country. Do skip using farm raised shrimp as wild caught shrimp have so much more flavor.
Oil: A little oil is needed to help sear the shrimp in fat. The fat in vegetable oil or peanut oil works much better than butter fat. However, it’s important to still use butter in this recipe since it’s a main component to making scampi sauce.
Garlic: Cook the garlic just for a few minutes. It will infuse an incredible amount of succulent flavor right into the shrimp and the sauce.
Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter because it’s generally a superior product. Salted butter contains and unpredictable amount of salt among different brands so it’s easier to control the overall salt level in any given dish.
Wine: Use a good quality dry white wine such as a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio. Another option is to use low sodium chicken stock in place of white wine. I don’t cook often with wine, especially when a lot of complex flavors are involved, but I do prefer it in a simple buttery garlic herb sauce. A good white wine introduces a tangy note in this recipe and I find I don’t use much lemon juice as compared to using a stock or broth.
Pasta: Any long pasta variety will do. I like to use fettuccine, linguine, spaghetti, or angel hair pasta. Do cook pasta according to package directions and toss it into the sauce at the end of cooking.
How to Peel and Prepare Shrimp
Shellfish like shrimp can be acquired in a variety of different ways. One way to save yourself some money is to get them with not the head and shells on. I’m going to explain how easy it is to clean, shell, and devein shrimp. Once the shrimp is prepared and clean, it’s ready to cook.
- Remove the head: The first thing you’ll want to do is remove the head and abdomen on the shrimp.
- Remove the shell: Next, slip your thumb under the thin shell from where the abdomen was removed and peel it off gently. It may take you a few tries but once you become more of an expert you should be able to remove the shell and legs in one motion.
- Remove the tail: Pinch and shimmy off the tail. This also might take a few tries to perfect. Be gentle and patient.
- Remove Intestinal track: Lastly, take note of the black line going down the shrimps back. This is the intestinal track and should also be removed. Although not everyone removes them, I highly recommend it. Simply make a cut down the shrimps back with a small pairing knife and pull out the intestinal track with a fork.
TIP: If working with frozen shrimp, allow them to thaw on the countertop for 10 minutes then fill a medium bowl with cold water and allow them to defrost in the bowl for another 10 minutes. Carefully separate any shrimp that may be stuck together.
The Best Shrimp Scampi
- 1 lb frozen or fresh jumbo shrimp thawed, deveined and shells removed
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 1¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup white wine or chicken stock
- ½ tbsp parsley minced
- ½ lemon
- 8 oz linguine optional, or rice
- In a large skillet, heat oil and 2 tbsp butter.
- Add shrimp and and saute for 1-2 minutes on each side.
- Add garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Pour in wine.
- Toss together then bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes until sauce thickens and reduces.
- Stir in butter, and parsley.
- Serve with pasta.
Nutritional information is only an estimate and it’s accuracy is not guaranteed to be exact.
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