Do you love seafood? Shellfish? If you do, and you can eat them safely, then read on and enjoy a recipe (and history lesson) in celebration of this prefect culinary combination of flavors on National Shrimp Scampi Day!
What is Scampi?
Scampi isn’t actually a way of cooking shrimp, but the given name to Nephrops Norvegicus, also known geographically by Norway lobster or Dublin Bay Prawn.
These Scampi are widely found in the Mediterranean and northeastern Atlantic, from North Africa to Norway and Iceland. They are roughly the same size as large crayfish, and are closer in taste profile and texture to lobster, rather than prawns or shrimp.
The dish, as we know it today, was simply adapted by Italian-American chefs who started substituting shrimp for Scampi, as Scampi wasn’t available stateside. Chefs in Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom and Spain also began to substitute shrimp for scampi when Scampi became scarce. They simply chose to keep the name.
Rich creamy butter, delicious garlic, tangy lemon juice, along with a subtle flavor white wine, make up the mouth watering, yet basic ingredients we in America most commonly associate with Shrimp Scampi. But, it turns out, the culinary preparation of Scampi can vary greatly depending on where you are in the world. In Britain, the shelled tail meat is generally referred to as “Scampi tails.” It is served fried in batter or breadcrumbs and usually served with chips and tartar sauce.
You may even find several Shrimp Scampi variations here in the United States, which can also be breaded, baked, or more traditionally, served with brown butter and tossed with noodles.
Below you will find a traditional Italian-American Shrimp Scampi dish served in a basic mouth-watering garlic, butter, and white wine sauce.
Makes 4 Servings
4 Tablespoons Butter, divided
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3-5 Garlic Cloves, minced (or bottled, about 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 Teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes, or to taste
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine *Optional, sweeter white wine varieties not recommend)
Kosher Salt, to taste
Ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 Pound Large Shrimp, peeled / de-veined *See note
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon
8 ounces (½ pound) Angel hair or linguine pasta, cooked (reserve some pasta water for thickening , if needed)
1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese *Optional,
In a large pan over medium heat, melt half of the butter along with olive oil. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 1 minute. (Watch your cooking temperature as garlic and red pepper flakes can burn easily.
Add in white wine, salt, and black pepper. Allow the mixture to simmer for 2-3 minutes or until it is reduced by close to half.
Add the shrimp to the pan stirring frequently, cook until shrimp is cooked through (around 2 to 4 minutes, depending size).
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining butter, stir to combine.
If you want to adjust the consistency of the sauce, do so with a little of the water left over from cooking the pasta.
Serve over angel hair or linguine pasta, add Parmesan cheese, if desired.
*Note: Big jumbo (thawed) shrimp or prawns work best as these shrink less when cooking. You may leave the tails on, they do add flavor, but you may also feel free to remove the tails.
A good side dish to serve with Shrimp Scampi is spinach, sautéed or roasted Brussels sprouts, a simple green salad or garlic bread.