The Best Shrimp Scampi

In scampi, shrimp gets the garlic treatment.

Garlicky, lemony, buttery–it’s all good.

Shrimp are likely the most versatile seafood. According to Bubba Gump, they’re good boiled, fried, sautéed, or served with grits. They even make good fish bait. And they’re available year round. Buy your shrimp from a reputable seafood shop that isn’t hesitant to let you smell their product.

Good shrimp, although likely frozen aboard the boat soon after being caught, don’t have a fishy smell and should smell like the waters from which they came.

There’s no comparing properly prepared shrimp scampi to what many restaurants serve. Shrimp soaked or poached in garlic butter can be good, but there’s more to scampi than just a quick swim through a sauce. When garlic, shallots, butter and lemons mingle with fresh Florida shrimp, the explosion of flavor is hard to describe. Try my recipe, along with one for a nice companion Caesar salad.

 

 

Shrimp Scampi

3 shallots, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 1⁄2 tsp. coarse sea salt
2 cups dry white wine
6 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Combine the shallots, 4 cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a mini-food processor or blender to make a smooth paste. Pour 6 tablespoons olive oil and remaining crushed garlic into a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the garlic sizzles, add about half the shrimp. Season with 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt and sauté until seared, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove first batch of shrimp to a holding dish. Sauté the second half of the shrimp and add them to the holding dish. To skillet add the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and the garlic-shallot paste and cook until the paste is so thick it almost sticks to the bottom of pan. Then add the white wine, lemon juice, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons butter. Bring sauce to a boil until volume is reduced by half. Whisk in remaining butter, add shrimp and cook about 2 minutes. Garnish with parsley. Feeds four hungry fishermen if served over pasta.

Caesar Salad
3 anchovy fillets
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. fine sea salt
½ tsp. finely ground pepper
1 tbsp. dry mustard
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
A splash of Tabasco sauce
3 hearts of Romaine lettuce
Croutons
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Don’t be scared by the number of ingredients in this dressing. All those flavors lend themselves to a complex taste and to what I consider to be a nearly perfect salad. Yes, you can buy the “creamy garlic” dressing in the grocery store that’s packaged as Caesar, but it’s just not the same.

In a large salad bowl, using the back of a large spoon, mash the anchovies, salt, garlic, pepper and mustard into a thick paste. Then add the other ingredients and whisk until thoroughly mixed. Toss in lettuce, cut into bite-sized pieces. Top the salad with croutons and sprinkle with a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese as you serve.

From the March 2012 issue of Florida Sportsman magazine.