Post # 58 Shrimp and Lemon and Garlic and Butter

October 15, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Yup!  It’s called Shrimp Scampi and it’s one of the easiest ways to prepare shrimp, and also one of the tastiest.  It can be done very simply or it can be a long, complex process.  It can have the simple four ingredients listed in the title, or it can have a list of ingredients that takes up a whole page.  But if you like shrimp, it’s certainly one of the best ways to serve it.

I’ve seen shrimp scampi served as an appetizer, but I’ve also seen it served as a main course.  Since it’s so versatile, it can be served any way you want to, really.

In the classic, traditional style it’s prepared very simply and quickly but with many ingredients.  First, you start with  the right amount of shrimp for the number of people you’ll be serving.  For medium-sized shrimp, figure 8-10 per person.  People who really love shrimp can steal extra from those who don’t love shrimp so much.  Fresh shrimp for this recipe must be shelled and deveined.  For those who don’t know about this, you hold the shrimp so it’s legs are pointing down and using a sharp paring knife make a slice along the “back” of the shrimp through the shell.  The shell then pulls right off, usually taking the legs with it.  Leave the final section of shell and the tail intact.  When you look at the meat of the shrimp, it will look translucent and kind of a gray color.  You will normally see a dark stripe running along the area you just cut with your knife.  Lightly run the knife through the meat, exposing this vein.  Using the tip of the knife, cut just under one section and lift the vein out.  The shrimp is now ready for eating.  Put all cleaned shrimp in a bowl of cool water to stay fresh until you need them.  As a side note, I’ve heard a lot of discussion about the necessity of deveining shrimp.  Some say yes, and some say no.  I say, go ahead and do it.  The vein is dark from the presence of sand and grit and even though it’s a small amount, why have it in your food?

When you’re ready to start cooking, drain your shrimp and lay them on paper towels to dry completely.  Pat them dry if necessary, they must be absolutely dry.  Heat two tablespoons of butter in a large skillet until the foaming subsides.  Raise the heat to medium high and very quickly transfer the shrimp to the skillet.  Cook on one side for one minute, then turn and cook for two minutes.  Immediately remove to a clean bowl.  To the butter in the skillet, add one tablespoon of olive oil, and add one finely minced shallot, and one clove of finely minced garlic.  Saute for thirty seconds, then add 1/4 cup of dry vermouth or white wine and one to two tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Boil this until it’s slightly thickened, about thirty-second to once minute will do.  Add two tablespoons of finely chopped parsley and one teaspoon of lemon zest.  Stir to combine and remove from heat.  Pour over shrimp and toss lightly to make certain all shrimp are evenly coated.  Divide onto serving plates and serve immediately while still warm.

Okay, that’s the classic version, as I know it.  I’ve seen some people who added chopped bell pepper to the shallot and garlic, others who have left out the shallots, and sometimes the garlic.  It’s all really a matter of personal taste.  Remember that fresh shrimp cooks quickly, and you want to do your best not to over-cook them as they get rubbery.

Now, I’ll tell you another way to do this that makes use of some short cuts.  I use frozen, pre-cooked, pre-cleaned shrimp.  To thaw the shrimp quickly, I turn on the hot water faucet and fill a large bowl.  I put the frozen shrimp into the bowl and leave it in the sink.  By the time I’m ready for the shrimp, they’ll be thawed and waiting for me.  First, I melt two tablespoons of butter with one tablespoon of olive oil.  The olive oil isn’t necessary, but it helps keep the butter from burning at higher temps.  It also adds flavor and richness.  I mince the garlic and shallot and saute them until they add their flavors to the butter.  Then I add a half cup of my favorite white wine, or whatever white wine I have on hand as long as it’s a dry wine.  You don’t want sweet wine here.  I let that simmer for a couple of minutes then add either fresh lemon juice, or a powdered lemon product I’ve found called Real Lemon (there’s also a Real Orange).  It’s hard to find, but worth the effort.  When I do find it, I usually buy as much as I can afford at the moment.  I lower the heat and drain my shrimp.  They will still be cold so I shake them dry and add them directly to the sauce to heat up.  Once all this is done, I serve them hot.

Now comes the fun part.  How do you turn this into a main course?  It’s easy.  Pasta!  I prefer a long noodle for this dish, and the thicker the better.  I normally use fettucine.  I have the fettucine cooking while I’m preparing the scampi.  As with all pasta, you want to cook it al dente, which basically means firm to the tooth, not soft.  Drain the pasta completely.  And if you’ve never heard it before, hear it from me now.   NEVER put oil in your pasta water.  It doesn’t do anything for the boil overs, and makes the sauce not stick to the pasta.  I’ll tell you another time how to avoid boil over when cooking pasta.

Once the pasta is ready, and the scampi is ready, I take out the shrimp and put the pasta into the skillet with the scampi sauce.  Using a pair of tongs, I turn the pasta several times to coat it with the sauce.  Then I divide the pasta onto plates and divide the shrimp onto the pasta.  Sometimes, I’ll add small pieces of steamed vegetables to the pasta to make a more complete meal, but this can also be served with a side salad or by itself.  Garlic bread goes well with, too.

Now, here’s a trick.  Not everyone in the world likes shrimp, but the scampi sauce is so good they’ll eat the pasta but not the shrimp.  I’ve never seen anything written anywhere that shrimp had to be used when making scampi.  I’ve substituted chicken bites, and pork loin bites.  Both are light enough to enhance the sauce and be enhanced by the sauce.  I’ve not tried beef yet, but it strikes me that beef would be too heavy a flavor for this.  Also, I think chopped fresh tomatoes would be an excellent addition to the pasta, and asparagus spears on the side would be great!

Anyway, Enjoy!

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