Shrimp scampi is a simple, fresh and flavorful way to prepare shrimp. When making this recipe, your top priority as a chef is to avoid overcooking the shrimp.
Shrimp scampi is ready fast, and the recipe’s flavor combination is incredibly fresh and flavorful. Shrimp scampi is one of my favorite weeknight dinners, and one of my favorite ways to prepare shrimp. (Another good one is baked shrimp).
So, what is shrimp scampi?
Shrimp scampi is an Italian-American dish of shrimp tossed in a simple-yet-exquisite sauce of butter, garlic and white wine. As it turns out, shrimp scampi is not a classic Italian recipe at all. The original Italian dish is simply called “Scampi.”
Scampi, or langoustines, are small crustaceans with pale pink shells. They look like tiny lobsters. A traditional way of preparing them in Italy is to sauté them with olive oil, garlic, onion, and white wine.
Immigrant Italian cooks in the US used what was available to them instead of scampi, which was shrimp, but kept both names. This resulted in the somewhat weird name “shrimp scampi,” which would literally translate to “shrimp lobster.”
What’s in shrimp scampi sauce?
Since this is a variation on the traditional Italian recipe, there are quite a few ways of making the sauce. All of them excellent! Honestly, I never met a shrimp recipe that I didn’t like, unless the shrimp were overcooked.
In my tasty version, shrimp scampi sauce is made from butter, garlic, white wine and lemon juice. It is seasoned with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and parsley.
This delicately flavored sauce is ideal for shrimp. It highlights their mild flavor rather than overpowering it. It’s not that spicy shrimp are bad – they are in fact excellent. But there’s something about pairing delicately flavored seafood with a delicate sauce.
Can you make shrimp scampi without wine?
Absolutely! I do feel that the small amount of wine I use in this recipe adds great flavor, and it’s fun to drink that same wine with the meal. But if you’re not a fan of wine or of alcohol, you can simply omit the wine and leave the rest of the recipe as is. It would still be delicious.
How to serve shrimp scampi?
This saucy dish is often served on top of pasta, or with crusty bread. But for us low carbers, it’s just as good on cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, or served on its own with a spoon for the sauce.
Sometimes I serve shrimp scampi with its marvelous sauce on a bed of raw baby spinach leaves. The warm sauce wilts the spinach leaves just enough to have them perfectly cooked. The whole dish is sublime.
Don’t overcook the shrimp!
As with most shrimp recipes, the most important thing when making shrimp scampi is to avoid overcooking the shrimp. Once you add them to the saucepan, cook the shrimp just until they turn pink and opaque, then remove immediately from the heat and serve. Overcooked shrimp become dry and rubbery.
Is this a healthy recipe?
I believe it is. Despite some issues with shrimp, if you’re not allergic to them, they are healthy in moderation. This is especially true if you buy sustainable shrimp, domestic and wild caught. The remaining ingredients in this recipe are whole foods. You can always use olive oil instead of butter and omit the wine if you’re so inclined.
What to do with leftover shrimp scampi?
You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Reheat them very, very gently, to avoid drying them out. If you use the microwave, reheat them covered and use the microwave on 50% power.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 lb. large shrimp, 16-20 per lb., shelled and de-veined
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat the butter in a very large (14 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, one minute.
- Add the shrimp, the wine and the kosher salt. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat, until shrimp are pink and opaque, about 5 minutes.
- Remove the shrimp from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice, parsley and black pepper. Toss to combine, and serve.