Shrimp Scampi – What’s that you say, Shrimp Shrimp?
A while ago one of our close friends requested Shrimp Scampi for his birthday dinner. Raffaella and I looked at each other a bit puzzled and not sure we had understood correctly I asked him, “You want Shrimp with Shrimp?” This time the confused look was on his face, “You know, Shrimp Scampi, every Italian place does Shrimp Scampi!” It is true that we rarely go to an Italian restaurant unless we know the chef or the owner and they are willing to cook for us according to Italian tradition and not the normal stuff they feed everyone else, but this is one we had never heard of before.
Raffaella asked him to describe what he wanted. Fortunately he is one of our cooking buddies so he was able to identify the ingredients without difficulty. He began, “Shrimp sautéed in a white butter sauce, maybe some lemon, …” At this point it was not necessary for him to continue, we understood what he was looking for. While Shrimp Scampi means nothing, Shrimp and/or Scampi in a butter sauce does. I do not think there is a special name for this sauce, it is widely used in Italy, Greece and Spain with all types of shellfish. It is the one way to cook shellfish that requires no talent and is marvelous. It is simple, quick, and flavorful. The only way you can mess it up is to crush the garlic instead of leaving it whole.
Scampi are a type of shrimp. It is halfway between a shrimp and a lobster. Scampi are larger than a Gamberone, or big shrimp, and much less than even a small lobster. One of the reasons we do not know the scampi is that they are found only in the Adriatic and Tirrenean Seas, sub sections of the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the Italian peninsula.
The basic sauce, in most regions will be called “al limone”, is the one I will describe however some regional versions will add peperoncino, rosemary or some other local herb. If you have fresh vegetables such as zucchini, red or yellow peppers, fava beans or olives these can also be added. These ingredients should be added when the garlic is added and should be allowed to cook fully before moving ahead with the recipe.
This sauce can be used with all shellfish, it can be cooked on the open fire, on a grill, or on the stove. I have even seen it made in a wood-burning oven (that was interesting). My favorite is to prepare some tagliatelle and throw everything on top.
Ingredients for 4 people:
2.2 lbs (1 kg.) Cleaned Shrimp, Scampi or other shellfish such as vongole or soft neck clams
½ cup olive oil
½ cup unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon
Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 lb (454 gr.) Tagliatelle, Linguine, or Spaghetti
Begin cooking the pasta in abundant salted water.
In a skillet place the oil and butter on medium heat. Add the cleaned cloves of garlic. When the butter and oil have combined add the lemon juice. Let the sauce reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the shellfish. Cook until the shellfish are ready. The shellfish will take anywhere from 4-8 minutes depending on the type. Remove the garlic before serving.
Strain the pasta. Divide onto the four plates. Pour the sauce on the pasta and move once or twice with a fork. Add the shellfish on top of the pasta. Finally sprinkle with parsley and serve very hot.
Tags: Scampi Shrimp Pasta Italian Recipes Seafood Shellfish Lemon Sauce Travel Italy