Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shrimp:Scampi

I've been on a tear recently getting recipes onto my blog. Some of the recent ones are from my repertoire from the cooking classes I do for Evening at Emory. I did not volunteer this year for summer classes there or at the Rolling Pin in Athens. We had the big catering for Maria's wedding this summer, and our business has a wedding to do in August. I also wanted some flexibility and a little vacation time. But I find myself, perhaps compensatingly, putting in more time on my blog. I'm also encourgaged to do it because I'm getting more hits than ever, and people are spending more time on the blog. So here's a recipe I worked out for one of my Emory classes, which highlights an ingredient that I like but haven't used much in the blog, shrimp.

Although the name in English, 'shrimp scampi', is redundant – ‘scampi’ means shrimp in Italian – this is a delightful dish, and makes a great supper or snack, or even a hot antipasto. Fresh shrimp are quickly fried with butter, garlic, and a little white wine. The secret is getting the freshest shrimp you can, or at least frozen ones that are still frozen, and medium-large if possible. Georgia and Florida shrimp, in season, make excellent scampi. As an antipasto or snack, scampi are served with crusty bread to soak up the sauce. Alternatively scampi can be served over lightly buttered pasta.

This recipe serves six. Ideal wines include Sauvignon Blanc, especially one from New Zealand or South Africa, or a Pinot Grigio or Trebbiano from Italy. Washington State and Oregon white wines (other than Rieslings, which are typically sweet) are usually crisp and light bodied enough for scampi also.

Shrimp Scampi Tim

1-1/2 pounds uncooked shrimp still in their shells, as fresh as possible, or still frozen
1 large clove garlic
1 small shallot, or 1 small scallion (green onion), including part of the green
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 squirt of hot pepper sauce

If using frozen shrimp, defrost them in a large bowl of cool water shortly before using. Peel the shrimp, keeping the tail sections on. Devein the shrimp by making a shallow cut down the middle of the back and lifting out the vein with the tip of the knife. Then partially “butterfly” the shrimp by cutting a little deeper down the upper third of the back of the shrimp. Rinse the shrimp in running water and pat very dry with paper towels. Refrigerate, covered with a damp paper towel, until ready to cook.

Finely mince the garlic and shallot or scallion. Squeeze and measure the lemon juice, and place it in a small cup. Mince the parsley and set aside for garnish.

Heat a frying pan (it can an attractive one the scampi are to be served from) to medium hot. Add the olive oil, butter, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Immediately add the minced garlic and shallot or scallion. Fry quickly for about 10 seconds, stirring constantly, just until translucent and fragrant but not browning. Add the prepared shrimp plus another 1/4 teaspoon salt, and stir and fry until the color partly changes and the flesh starts to become opaque (1 to 1-1/2 minutes). Add the wine, stirring. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring constantly until the shrimp are fully changed in color, curl up, and are opaque, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and taste the sauce. If it is not slightly salty, add a little salt. Stir in the lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Stir in part of the parsley. Sprinkle with the remainder.

Serve with warm crusty bread or over pasta, such as linguini or vermicelli, which has been moistened with melted butter and lightly salted.

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