I’m an only child, but I’m not spoiled… except when it comes to shrimp. I grew up on the Florida Panhandle eating wild pink shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. Over the years I’ve tried to like others—farm-raised tiger shrimp from various parts of the world, brown shrimp, white shrimp—but nothing compares to the wild pink shrimp from my youth. Today I’m offering a recipe for Shrimp Scampi Appetizer.
I’ve flavored the dish classically with olive oil, lemon, garlic, and parsley. But instead of diluting those potent flavors with enough liquid to moisten a big bed of pasta, I’ve kept the flavors intense with the focus on the shrimp.
You’ll also notice I’ve kept the shrimp in the shell. I believe making people get their hands a little dirty at the start of a meal always gets the night started off right. And sucking that potent garlicky lemon sauce off the shell before peeling and eating shrimp is such added pleasure. But here’s a big bonus: leaving the shrimp in the shell means you don’t’ have to peel them!
Two keys to getting this dish right—get the pan good and hot before you add the shrimp and don’t overcrowd the pan. You want the shrimp to blister, not steam. Once the shrimp are cooked, pull the skillet off the heat and add the remaining ingredients. There’s enough residual heat to fire up the oil, cook the garlic, and reduce the lemon juice.
After sampling a few of these shrimp, Maggy thought she might add a pinch of hot red pepper flakes. For those who like it hot, I think she’s right.
It’s the weekend, and since this dish is all about the shrimp, I’m gonna ask you to seek out wild pinks. Once you make Shrimp Scampi Appetizer, tell me if you can’t tell the difference!
Shrimp Scampi Appetizer
4 large garlic cloves
1/4 pure olive oil
1 pound shrimp (preferably Gulf pink wild), shells on
1 lemon, divided
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper
Mince garlic in a food processor. With motor running add oil through the feeder tube in a slow, steady stream to make garlic oil.
Meanwhile, heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet until smoking. Add shrimp in a single layer; cook until one side of the shells are spotty brown, about 2 minutes. Turn shrimp and continue to cook until just cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Turn off heat, pour in garlic oil, and toss to coat. Squeeze in half the lemon juice and sprinkle with parsley and a little salt and pepper; toss to coat again. Serve with lemon wedges