Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pan Seared Shrimp and Scampi Pasta

Garlic and butter scampi pasta with white wine, fresh herbs, lemon and red pepper flakes, tossed with seasoned, pan-seared shrimp.

Pan Seared Shrimp and Scampi Pasta

I always thought shrimp scampi was, well, just shrimp scampi. A very simple, but flavorful dish, and so satisfying for those of us who love shrimp with plenty of garlic and butter, tossed with some pasta. Accented with a little white wine, some fresh lemon and herbs, and a dash of red pepper flakes, it's a quick to the table dish and just delicious!

Apparently, the word scampi actually refers to the name of a pale pink crustacean called langoustines, or lobsterettes, according to my Italian cookbook The Silver Spoon, which has a variety of recipes dedicated to using them... but oddly, nothing like this! Langoustines come from the North Sea, and look and taste similar to lobster, although it's far smaller. Reminds me of a pale pink version of our local crawfish, but with more slender claws. It is, apparently a very important part of European cuisine though. Who knew?

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For most of us in the United States, scampi is an adapted Italian-American dish, utilizing a more widely available shrimp here in America. I confess that since I grew up and still live right on the Gulf Coast, I'm a bit of a shrimp snob. I'm used to fresh, sweet Gulf shrimp, bought fresh at the fish market or more often, right at the docks, as soon as the shrimpers come in with their catch.

Dad's old shrimp boat, Lucy F. Sure do miss her!
I truly hate buying already frozen shrimp, but of course there are times I do, especially since Dad sold the shrimp boat and The Cajun isn't bringing home "free" shrimp that they caught, and I froze. World of difference between the two, I tell ya!

Of course, a rite of passage growing up around here is working a shrimp boat at some point in your life, and anybody who has, knows those shrimp are never really free, as it is some pretty grueling work. Putting them up is a job in and of itself. Still, I sure do miss those days and having 100 pounds of fresh-caught Gulf shrimp in my freezer. You can bet one thing though, even bought frozen at the grocery store, it's gonna be wild-caught Gulf shrimp and not some foreign import that we're eating in this house.

An appropriate substitute for langoustines in an Italian recipe is notably jumbo shrimp or crawfish, but for this dish, I used a 26/30 count, which is considered a medium to large sized shrimp, but not jumbo or colossal. I just prefer them a bit smaller in a pasta dish.

I also grow herbs in a patio garden right outside of my backdoor, or in an inside Aerogarden, but if you don't grow them, you probably pick them up occasionally at your local grocery market. I bet you tend to have to pitch them before you come close to using them up too!

To counter that, I found these refrigerator herb keepers. You put a little water in the bottom and close the door and it helps to keep them fresh much, much longer. Pretty neat. I was skeptical and surprised how long they stayed fresh actually! There are some versions a bit more expensive, but so far I'm pretty good with these more affordable ones.

For fresh herbs I had basil and parsley, so that's what I used, though certainly use whatever you like. A little acidity from some fresh lemon juice really adds to this dish too, but remember, shrimp is the star here, so not too much. You don't want to overpower it with lemon flavor. For my seasoning blend on the shrimp, I used Cajun seasoning and Old Bay, with a just a little bit of brown sugar to help encourage a good sear.

To prepare, toss the shrimp with the seasonings, sear in hot oil in the skillet, wipe out, add butter and olive oil, saute a bunch of garlic, add in a good white wine or chicken broth, add lemon juice and seasonings, boil until mixture reduces, toss in pasta, a little more butter, herbs and seasonings, then add shrimp with any accumulated juices, heat through and serve immediately with some French bread and a nice garden salad. Easy!

Oh my gosh... garlicky, buttery pasta with seasoned shrimp. So good y'all. Dig in!

I cook a lot, and one thing I have learned about cooking is that when you have the right tools, it's a much more pleasant, and easier, experience, so for years I have shared some of my favorite kitchen tools and gadgets with y'all right here on the blog.

Well, I finally gathered up some of my favorite kitchen helpers in one spot at my own Amazon store. These are all products that I use and love, except for a very small handful that are still on my wishlist. Click the link to visit my shop to check out my favorite things... and be sure to bookmark to visit again as I will continue to update! Some of my favorites used with this recipe are:

Hand-Powered Food Chopper
Refrigerator Herb Keeper
Rada Cutlery R134 Cook's Knife
Copper Chef 9-1/2-inch square fry pan.
Cooling rack

For more of my favorite shrimp recipes, click over to my page on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Pan Seared Shrimp and Scampi Pasta

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 15 min | Yield: About 4 servings

For the Shrimp:
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound large (26/30 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
For the Scampi:
  • 8 ounces angel hair or other pasta, cooked
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt, for the pasta pot
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 small lemon, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste, optional

Prepare pasta; reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside. Meanwhile, pat shrimp dry with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Combine seasonings and toss with shrimp. Cook half of the shrimp in hot oil in a single layer until browned, about 1-1/2 minutes, turn and cook another 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a bowl; set aside. Repeat with next batch of shrimp, adding another tablespoon of oil as needed.

Wipe out the skillet and add 1/2 of the butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; add garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the wine or broth, lemon juice from half of the lemon, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil and boil until mixture reduces by about half. Add the cooked pasta and remaining 2 tablespoons butter; toss. Add the basil, parsley, remaining lemon juice and red pepper flakes; toss, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add shrimp and any accumulated juices, tossing until shrimp is heated through. Add some of the reserved pasta water to moisten if needed. Serve immediately with a green salad and crusty French bread.

Cook's Notes: Substitute bacon drippings for the olive oil for a little extra flavor. These shrimp can also be spooned over rice or grits, instead of adding pasta.


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Posted by on February 21, 2018

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  1. That’s one thing I miss the most! I used to live in Mobile, AL and used to go and buy my shrimp and crabs right off the boat and dock. Love Gulf shrimp, it’s the best! Miss crawfish too! Yum!

  2. Sounds sooo good! Will definitely have to give this a try! Love me some shrimp!


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