The Perfect Guide to Cooking Scampi

Date nights are incomplete without shrimp scampi. This sophisticated seafood recipe has an Italian American origin and is great for any gathering. Shrimp scampi involves immersing your shrimp in a homemade, buttery sauce infused with garlic, lemon, wine, and a range of herbs.

Not only does shrimp scampi have an incredible aesthetic appeal, but it also has a short cooking time. In half the time that it takes to cook other meals, you can give your guests an amazing shrimp scampi and leave them wanting more. 

The best tip to cooking perfect shrimp scampi is to not let them overcook. Once the shrimp have turned bright pink in color, you should remove them from heat immediately.

The diversity with serving shrimp scampi is incredible. It can be served with toothpicks as an appetizer, or over noodles or rice as a main course.

What is Scampi?

If you haven’t had shrimp scampi before, then we are happy to introduce this amazing dish to you. Scampi is a word from the rich Italian language that has traveled all across European countries. In most areas, scampi refers to the peeled tail of any prawn. However, the UK and Ireland have a different meaning of scampi that involves one specific prawn, the langoustine. 

Langoustine is a lobster that is fetched from cold waters. These lobsters are expensive, making scampi a highly sophisticated dish to cook and present. The key to cooking scampi correctly is to coat the langoustine meat with a heavy coating of breadcrumb which results in a fuller meal.

Most of the langoustine that you find in grocery stores has been fished from Scotland, Norway, or Ireland, and exported all across European countries.

Guide To Cooking Scampi at Home

Most of us have only ordered shrimp scampi in restaurants. By looking at the dish, you might never be able to guess just how easy it is to cook at home. All you need to do is follow a quick and easy recipe that helps you make a rich sauce for the scampi at home.

Once your shrimp is cooked, you can serve it over linguine or toasted Italian bread to make a wonderful main course at your dinner gathering. 

To cook shrimp scampi at home, you will need a pound of large shrimp that has been deveined and peeled to remove the shells. Other ingredients include minced garlic, ground pepper, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and dry white wine. You can also add concentrated shrimp stock if you can find it at your local grocery store, but it is entirely optional. To grease the pan, you will need unsalted butter, fresh lemon juice, and some fresh parsley. 

Before you start cooking, you need to marinate the shrimp in minced garlic and salt. Toss the shrimp to ensure an even coating over each piece. Once your marinaded shrimp are prepared, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add olive oil to the pan. Place your shrimp into the oil and let them cook for about 2 minutes until they have become opaque in appearance.

Remember to turn the shrimp halfway between cooking to ensure that each side is cooked properly. When the shrimp have changed color and are beginning to curl, remove them from the skillet and place them on a plate. 

Now, you can start making the scampi. On medium heat, add another tablespoon of minced garlic to the same skillet and red-pepper flakes. Heating your spices will enhance their flavor, hence it is an important step of every recipe.

Once you can smell the aroma of red-pepper flakes, proceed to add the wine to your skillet and increase the flame to high heat. Wait for about 2 minutes until the wine has reduced in volume to about 2 tablespoons in the skillet. 

If you have shrimp stock available, you should add it to the skillet at this stage. If not, simply add some lemon juice and let the stock boil for about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from heat and slowly stir in about 3 tablespoons of cold butter to form a thick sauce. Remember to be patient and avoid overmixing.

Once the sauce has emulsified, you can add your shrimp back to the skillet and toss them to coat. Be gentle at this step since your shrimp meat can break apart easily. Let the shrimp coat with sauce evenly, and add additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice as per your taste. 

The best part about cooking shrimp scampi is that you can serve it directly in the skillet. If you prefer serving in a more sophisticated manner, then transfer the shrimp and all the sauce to a deep dish and sprinkle with parsley for presentation. 

Other Ways to Cooking Scampi

The above-mentioned recipe is the easiest way to cook shrimp scampi at home, but it also the simplest method. Once you have perfected the technique, feel free to add variations to the recipe as per your preference. Here are two popular ideas to add variation to your shrimp scampi: 

1. Mustard and Thyme Shrimp Scampi

To give your shrimp scampi a different taste, you can replace the red-pepper flakes with 2-3 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. This will give you a sweeter flavor instead of a spicy one. You can also add minced thyme to your recipe at this stage to give it some freshness.

The wine can be replaced with dry vermouth to compliment the mustard and thyme flavors. When serving, you can omit the parsley and season with some additional thyme instead. 

2. Tomato and Caper Shrimp Scampi

When toasting the red-pepper flakes with garlic, you can add a cup of halved cherry tomatoes to bring a diverse flavor to your shrimp scampi. You can also add two teaspoons of drained capers to add a tangy and salty touch to your dish.

If the skillet becomes too dry, feel free to add an additional tablespoon of olive oil. You might have to increase the cooking time at this stage to about 2 minutes to let the tomatoes and caper incorporate properly.

Trying New Types of Shrimp Scampi

Not everyone likes the traditional way of cooking shrimp scampi. Some people have dietary restrictions, and others simply prefer their shrimp scampi in a different manner. To cater to the varying tastes of people, here are a few shrimp scampi ideas that you can consider: 

1. Low-Calorie Shrimp Scampi

The easiest way to make a low-calorie version of shrimp scampi is to substitute the butter. However, that doesn’t mean compromising on the rich flavor. All you need to do is replace the majority of butter with healthier oils like olive, flaxseed, or sesame.

To replicate the rich flavor of traditional scampi, you can add parmesan cheese to your recipe. If you are on a strict keto diet, you can serve your scampi over zucchini noodles or brown rice instead of noodles. 

2. Mediterranean Scampi

If you like Spanish paella, you can bring those flavors to your shrimp scampi. Cut your prep time in half by using frozen shrimp scampi. All you need to do is assemble a skillet full of

Spanish-inspired ingredients such as canned tomatoes and pimiento-stuffed olives and simmer the scampi in this delightfully rich sauce. 

3. Cooking with Garlic

If you are planning on serving shrimp scampi as an appetizer, cooking it with garlic is the best option. Get extra-large shrimp that are big enough for a single serving scampi on your table.

Before adding your white wine, add extra garlic to the skillet to enhance the flavor. If mincing garlic sounds like too much effort, you can always opt for garlic powder as a quick alternative, especially if you are in a hurry. Then, add the white wine and lemon juice as per usual. 

To lighten the smell of garlic, you can add fresh vegetables like parsley and scallions to compliment your dish. Don’t forget to add a couple of tablespoons of butter to make a garlic-butter sauce that leaves every guest impressed.  

4. Grilled Scampi

To get a smokey cookout flavor in your shrimp scampi, all you need to do is cook the shrimp on the grill. Instead of cooking them in the skillet, you should lay each individual shrimp directly on a hot grill and let them cook until they have a charred covering.

If you are making this on an outdoor grill, then feel free to grab a cast-iron skillet and place it directly on the grill to make your scampi sauce. Add the butter, white wine, scampi stock, and season as per your taste. Once the sauce is done, add the charred shrimp to the skillet and serve with crusty bread. 

5. Quick Way to Cook Scampi

Did you know that you can make shrimp scampi within 10 minutes? All you need to do is make a garlic-butter sauce with minced onion.

The secret ingredient is honey Dijon salad dressing which adds a flavorful tang to your dish. To add some freshness, you can add either chopped scallions or baby peas and serve the dish with hot rice or pasta.

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