There are few things I love more than shrimp cooked "scampi style" that features the complimentary flavors of garlic, olive oil, white wine and lemon. Before Tyler Florence streamed into my life via his cable TV show, I would spoon the shrimp and sauce over prepared pasta, the thin sauce pooling at the bottom of the bowl. When I saw Tyler "cook" the pasta and sauce together, I had an a-ha moment, and thought, why didn't I think of that? After all, that is the secret to great pasta dishes - letting the pasta absorb some of the sauce before serving.
The secret to succulent shrimp every time is brining, no matter the final preparation. No doubt about it, shrimp can easily be overcooked. There is no time to multitask when shrimp are sizzling in the skillet or simmering in the pan. You must give the shrimp your full attention. As soon as they turn pink, the little guys are done.
At the seafood counter, you may want to give some consideration as to how your crustaceans were raised: on the farm or in the wild. Both are acceptable methods depending upon the circumstances. The United States just banned the import of wild caught shrimp from Mexico for failure to use "Turtle Excluder Devices" or TEDs. The same ban was levied against Costa Rica in 2009. Proper use of the TEDs reduces the amount of turtles caught in nets by 90% and the U.S. Government requires any fishery to use the device that sells to the United States (although enforcement has been spotty.)
This is one of our favorite "go-to" dishes for entertaining. It is easy, can be prepared for a crowd in a jiff without much prep time, and is simply delicious.
Shrimp Scampi with Linguine
I have to admit that I love sprinkling finely grated parmigiano-reggiano over my serving risking the admonishment of "people in the know" that seafood shall not be garnished with cheese. Live and let live. I say have your shellfish and parmesan, too. This recipe is based on one by Chef Tyler Florence who rose to fame as a star on Food Network.
2 pounds raw shrimp, 26-30 count, peeled and deveined, and brined
4 quarts water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt, preferably Diamond®
1 pound linguine
4 Tbsps butter, divided
4 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
1. To brine shrimp: Dissolve 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup kosher salt in 4 quarts water; mix well. If you are using frozen shrimp, simply add the frozen shrimp to the brine. Stir every so often. The shrimp will defrost in about an hour.
2. For the pasta: On the stove, bring six quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add two tablespoon of kosher salt and the linguine. Stir to separate the pasta; cover. When the pasta returns to a boil, remove the lid, stir again and continue to cook uncovered until the pasta is not quite done, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, shake lightly to remove excess water and let sit in the colander until ready to add to sauce. Note: To warm a serving bowl for the pasta, use some of the pasta water to heat the bowl, if you like.
3. To cook the shrimp: Remove the shrimp from the brine and set aside; discard brine. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallots and red pepper flakes until the shallots are translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté for about 30 seconds and add the shrimp, tossing to coat. Cook the shrimp, stirring often, until they have turned pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the shrimp from the pan to a bowl; set aside.
4. For the sauce: Add wine and lemon juice to the skillet and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons oil. When the butter has melted, transfer the cooked linguini to the pan. Stir well to coat the pasta evenly with the sauce. Add half the parsley, and continue to stir until pasta is hot. Check for seasoning. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Transfer the pasta to a medium sized serving bowl and place shrimp on top. Scatter a sprinkling of parsley over the shrimp and serve immediately with a salad and garlic bread, if desired. Servings: 4-6