garlicky, lemony, and delicious, this quick-to-make dish is a classic for good
Italian-American family, Sunday lunches at one of my grandmothers’ houses or
one of the many Italian restaurants in New Haven, Connecticut, were a big event
when I was growing up. My grandmothers’ meals usually centered around handmade
pastas and long-simmered red sauces, so on the occasions that we’d dine out,
I’d order my favorite seafood dish: shrimp scampi.
Get the recipe: Shrimp Scampi
Scampi is the Italian name for small, clawless Mediterranean prawns, which are
often cooked with lemon and garlic. In the early 20th century, Italian
immigrants to America substituted shrimp for scampi, creating the dish we know
today as shrimp scampi. Though there are many versions of the dish, the one I
now make for my family includes a couple of special steps. First, I make a
quick stock from the shrimp shells. Second, while most scampi recipes add lemon
and parsley at the end of the process, I add them at the beginning to maximize
their flavor, a trick I learned while living in Italy. The finished dish is
succulent, bursting with sweet shrimp, heady garlic, and tangy lemon
flavors—just as I remember it from my childhood. I hope it becomes a tradition
for your family, too.
shrimp stock. Sauté the parsley, garlic, and lemon zest in the butter. Add the
shrimp, then wine, then shrimp stock. Make the sauce.
time, ask your fishmonger to peel and devein the shrimp for you, but have them
save the shells so you can make the stock.
step adds wonderful flavor to the finished dish.
yields more stock than you need, but you can freeze the rest to use for more
scampi or for other dishes, like shrimp risotto.
garlic, parsley, and lemon zest together to release their flavor into the
moisture from the parsley and zest also helps protect the garlic from burning.
Add a pinch
of salt while mincing the garlic to keep the garlic from sticking to your knife
shrimp dry before cooking.
will cook more quickly and evenly.
want to overpower the delicate shrimp, so choose a light, crisp, dry white wine
that’s not too buttery or heavy on oak.
Some of my
favorite Italian whites for scampi include Vermentino from Sardinia, Tocai from
Fruili, or Gavi from Piedmont.
overcook the shrimp. Shrimp cook quickly and become tough if overcooked.
from the heat as soon as they’re light pink and firm to the touch; if they’ve
curled into a tight “o” shape, then they’ve cooked too long.
cooked shrimp should look like a comma.