Shrimp Scampi is a classic example of Italian immigrant influence on American cuisine. “Scampi” are actually lobster-like crustaceans, but much smaller – about the size of a jumbo prawn (shrimp). They have pale pink shells, also like the larger lobsters. When Italian cooks immigrated to America, true scampi were hard to come by. So, they started using jumbo prawns with exceptionally satisfying results. They continued to call the dish “scampi”, but added “shrimp” to the name. Hence, “Shrimp Scampi” came into existence, a truly original American dish.
One of the more traditional methods of preparing scampi in Italy is to sauté them in white wine, olive oil, chopped onion and minced garlic. This American shrimp scampi follows that much of the tradition, but adds a couple herbs: parsley and tarragon.
Classic American Shrimp Scampi Recipe-
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
- 2 tsp. finely chopped, dried tarragon leaves, divided
- freshly cooked pasta of your choice, for serving (optional)
- Wash the shrimp, then place them on a paper-towel-lined tray, laying flat and evenly spaced. Pat them completely dry. Remove the paper towel lining, and rearrange the shrimp on the tray spaced flat and evenly apart.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Note: the skillet should be large enough to cook all the shrimp without being bunched together. If you don’t have a skillet large enough, you will have to work in batches – the shrimp should not be touching each other while frying.
- Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, to taste. When the butter has stopped foaming, raise the heat to high. Take the tray of shrimp and invert it over the skillet, so the shrimp drop into the pan all at the same time. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to make sure they are all laying flat and not clumped together.
- Sauté the shrimp, without moving them, for 1 minute. Add the onion and garlic into the skillet, and stir just enough to get the onion and garlic evenly spread on the bottom. Sprinkle half of the parsley and tarragon evenly over all the shrimp. Cook for 1 minute more. Flip the shrimp over and cook for 2 more minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl and keep them warm in the oven.
- Return the skillet to the burner, and pour in the wine and lemon juice. Boil the mixture for about 30 seconds, or until slightly thickened. Lower the heat to just a lively simmer. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon, and stir them thoroughly into the mixture. Now add and stir in the lemon zest and the remaining parsley and tarragon, and simmer for about 2 minutes more.
- Pour the sauce over the shrimp. Toss together to combine. Do a taste test, and season some more with salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
- If serving the shrimp by itself, divide them evenly and place them on four serving plates. Drizzle an even amount of the sauce over each serving.
- Are you desiring to serve your Classic American Shrimp Scampi with pasta? Then place a portion of the pasta on each serving plate, arrange the shrimps on top, and finish the presentation with a drizzling of the sauce over everything.
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