Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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.


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Blogger Alfonso Cevola said...

so are you gonna make some
of that Salad Insalata to go with it
or how about some Vegetables Contorni too?
I think some Red Rosso wine wouldnt go too well with it.
Maybe you should go with some
White Bianco wine
or some Dessert Dolce wine

6:30 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

IWG- I can tell you have visited many an "Italian restaurant". Are you also into the new stoufers dinners?

6:39 PM

Blogger Alfonso Cevola said...

oh yes i especially love the chicken carbonara

9:02 PM

Blogger a.c.t. said...

Travel, it's also known as Langoustine or in the Uk Dublin Bay Prawn.

4:00 AM

Blogger Tracie P. said...

hey italian wine guy, how about some antipasti for an appetizer, or a pannini sandwich? oh, this could go on for a LONG time...:)

david, this is how it was explained to me--the italian american immigrants of way back when, couldn't find scampi, so they started to prepare shrimp (a good substitute) "in the way of scampi." this eventually, over the generations, became known as shrimp scampi.

and don't try to tell me that you never heard of it!! you ARE american, aren't you? ;)

8:13 AM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Tracie b. - Although I was born in the US and grew up here, until 19, I spent my entire adult life in Italy. So I have a very unusual mix of cultures in who I am. When I first returned to the US I had a difficult time speaking english. Italian was, and probably still is, my first language.

Italian restaurants back then were primarily pizza joints... so I did not have the opportunity to learn about Italian dishes until I went to Italy.

Thinking about it I consider myself an immigrant, not to Italy but to the US. The US no longer represents the same values that I remember as a kid. Everything is a learning experience for me as I attempt to "fit in."

8:30 AM

Blogger Alfonso Cevola said...

hey Davide!
but you emmigrated back to the US...hmmm maybe we waited too late to build that wall....may Vee Zee your papers please? Ve Vant to zee eff all zings are in order!

3:33 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

IWG - you found me out! Does this mean I can stop paying taxes? Perhaps if 15 million of us stopped paying taxes the government would decide it is too difficult to prosecute. Or maybe not, that would jeapordize our politicians salary...

5:30 PM


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