Scampi’s Inferno


Shrimp scampi is technically a very simple dish. The fundamental ingredients are shrimp, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, wine, butter and red pepper flakes. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Well for some reason, this dish has eluded us on two separate attempts. On our first try, we followed a recipe only to burn the garlic beyond recognition. For our second outing, we sauteed the garlic and shrimp to perfection only to learn that both of us had salted the dish, resulting in a scampi quite literally from the sea. So we brave this dish once again with all of our past mistakes in clear view. We’ve picked out the perfect shrimp, combined just the right elements…should we be worried that our grocery bill was $86.66? Are we forever stuck in the purgatory of scampi hell?

3/4 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
5-6 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped. Plus two extra whole cloves.
a handful of parlsey, chopped
olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup of shrimp stock (chicken stock is fine if you want to skip the shrimp stock)
red pepper flakes
linguini or other pasta

If you’re shelling the shrimp yourself, save the shells to make your own stock. Boil a small pot full of water with the shells, parsley and some onion peels for 15-20 minutes and set aside.

Since we burned the garlic before, our technique on this go-round was to sear the shrimp with a couple of whole cloves, instead of adding the chopped garlic right away. We heated our cast iron skillet to medium-high and added 2 tbsp butter, 2 tbsp olive oil and the two whole cloves of garlic. Hit the shrimp with some salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and sear for a minute on each side, tops. Remove the shrimp and the whole garlic cloves (depending on their condition, save them for later or discard) and add the chopped garlic to the pan with some additional red pepper flakes. Cook the garlic until golden, then add the wine and lemon juice. Reduce with a 1/2 cup of stock for a few minutes and add 1 tbsp butter. Return the shrimp to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes more until done. Add the pasta and parsley and toss everything together. Serve immediately with some crusty bread and a salad. If you like, a little parmesan on top won’t hurt.

So was our scampi a success? Only the devil knows… 😉