can you think of anything more fun than the two words "shrimp scampi"?
Home Movies Tuesday!
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Historically speaking, I don’t take requests. Not for recipes, not for anything, really. Yes, of course, this is directly correlated to my issue with authority, and yes, I do hate being told what to do. But gentle suggestions? I love them. Hopes, wishes, and dreams? I want nothing more than to hear them.
But the other day, I did get a very good request, and that’s because it was more of a gentle suggestion, wrapped in a hope/wish/dream.
Jessica— I would love nothing more than to make you Shrimp Scampi!
Shrimp Scampi is a dish that at its most basic means “shrimp cooked in white wine sauce,” and to that end, I am meeting the qualifications here. The thing that will set this dish apart from a Bad Version of this dish is the amount of sauciness in the skillet, and by sauciness, I mean butter and wine (my favorite couple). There is also a bit of finely chopped red onion, so much garlic (could use more maybe, idk!), a little fish sauce (optional but really makes a difference), a ton of fresh herbs, and a healthy squeeze from our old friend LEMON, lover to shrimp and pasta the world over.
The measurements are not a typo, and if you decide to cut the amounts in half because the number 8 worries you (8 as in 8 tablespoons as in 1 stick of butter), all I can say is I can’t vouch for that version. I can vouch for this version, and this version is pretty perfect. Live a little! Have FUN again! Jessica would want it that way.
To me, Shrimp Scampi is decidedly about the shrimp, and less so about the pasta. Don’t serve this Shrimp Scampi over anything for all I care (actually, I do care, and I think it’s a great idea!)— The important thing here is that you have a lot of saucy, glossy businesses all over whatever you’re serving it on (pasta, rice, grains, wilted greens) or sopping it up with (crunchy olive oil toast). My one piece of non-negotiable wisdom is to season the shrimp with plenty of salt and pepper before adding it to the skillet (I once did not do this, and it really ruined things for me/the shrimp).
As for the shrimp, any sized shrimp would work well here. I always prefer a large or jumbo wild shrimp (fresh or frozen), especially if doing a larger pasta shape as I did here. Head-on prawns would be an incredible choice if you can find them and feel like going the pasta-less route. I’ve done this with small bay shrimp tossed with linguini and 12/10 would recommend that, too. All (as-responsibly-sourced-as-possible) shrimp are welcome!
10 ounces pasta, like shells, rigatoni, linguini, truly whatever shape you like (optional)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined if using pasta, shell-on, head-on preferred if not
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small or 1/2 large red onion, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¾ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or ½ thinly sliced jalapeno, serrano, habanero, etc (optional, only if you want it spicy)
½ cup dry white wine
¾ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup finely chopped chives
1 lemon, halved
1. If serving with pasta, cook pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Drain, toss with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and toss so it doesn’t stick together; set aside. Usually, I’d have you do this after your pasta ingredients are cooked, but everything happens so fast I want the pasta to be ready.
2. Season shrimp with salt and pepper; set aside (do not skip this step).
3. Heat butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium–high heat until butter is melted and foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and sliced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until the onion has softened and starting to brown on the edges and the garlic is completely softened, 4–6 minutes. If you wanted a spicy shrimp scampi, this is when I’d add the crushed red pepper flakes or fresh, sliced pepper.
4. Add shrimp and toss in the hot fat until the shrimp is bright pink on the outside and starting to curl up (cute!), about a minute or so. Add white wine and fish sauce (if using), season again with salt and pepper and let it simmer around the shrimp, gently steaming and cooking them all the way through as the liquid reduces to create a thing that could only be described as “a very good sauce.”
5. If serving with pasta, toss the shrimp and all it’s fantastic sauce with the parsley, chives and cooked pasta (do this in a bowl, do this in the skillet, wherever you have space). Toss, toss, toss! The whole thing should be saucy and glossy: two words that always belong together.
6. Squeeze lemon over everything before serving, scatter more herbs if you like.