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  • Writer's pictureMcKenna

the shrimp scampi, sorta

Prep time: 35 minutes

Cook time: 10-15 minutes

Serving size: 4-5

Traditionally, shrimp scampi is heavily doused in oil & butter. It's delicious.

I mean, let's be honest, you really can't go wrong with a little bit of salt & a lot of fat.

Depending on the person & their preferences, shrimp scampi can look very different. Some like it served over pasta, others prefer it to stand out on its own. Some add white wine, some add tomatoes, many choose to lather bread in the leftover sauce. The point is that there's no one size fits all.

The word "scampi" is Italian for langoustine, a type of seafood that sorta looks like a massive prawn or a small lobster. In Norway, scampi are called Norwegian lobsters. If you were to eat shrimp scampi in Italy, there's a good chance it'll be sauteed in a heavy hand of butter, olive oil, & plenty of garlic.

While I've had scampi abroad, I've never made it myself. So for my first attempt, I followed the recipe to a T, usually, I'll change it up as I go but I wanted to see exactly how a classic scampi dish should look & taste.

The results? Pretty phenomenal.

But while I love olive oil & butter, I don't always love food swimming in a pool of fat.

So, I attempted a second round.

This time, I heavily cut back on the oil (by nearly half), reduced the salt, then added a few other spins & WAABAM... it was a winner.

We now have this dish weekly as it's incredibly easy to make. Shrimp scampi sounds like a chore, like some elaborate dish made by a fancy, Italian man in a Michelin-star restaurant along the southern coast of Italy. Maybe that's overkill. Maybe not. Either way, you get the point. In reality, anyone can make the dish. It's incredibly versatile & quite forgiving. Once it's on the stove, it comes together in minutes. The biggest time suck is letting the shrimp sit for 30 minutes before cooking... but you don't have to tend to it, you just let it do its thing.

How to serve:

I prefer to make this alongside arborio rice & roasted veg like asparagus & / or bell peppers. But it pairs well with most vegetables, a pasta of your choosing, & yes, most definitely sourdough.


1. Tomato sauce makes for an excellent addition

2. Traditionally, white wine is used instead of chicken stock, you can try replacing it with a dry wine such as sauvignon blanc or chardonnay - I haven't attempted this yet

3. I used unsalted butter, salted works fine too, I'd scale back a bit on the salt if you go this route

I N G R E D I E N T S 2 lbs wild shrimp

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 Tbsp ghee

1/2 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup green onion

1/2 cup Italian parsley

5-6 large garlic bulbs, minced & divided

juice of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp + a small pinch of sea salt

heavy pinch of paprika

pepper to taste


Chop the garlic & let it sit while you prepare the shrimp.

Take the tails off the shrimp if necessary. Add the shrimp to a medium bowl & drizzle with 3 Tbsps of olive oil. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp sea salt over the shrimp & add half of the garlic. Mix together then let sit for 30 minutes.

After the 30 minutes have elapsed, drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp & toss together to thoroughly coat the shrimp. Flaten the shrimp so they're evenly touching the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the top side with paprika (your preference on how much, I use quite a lot) & let it sit for 1-2 minutes just until the shrimp begins to look opaque. Flip the shrimp & let the other side cook for another 1-2 minutes.

After the time has elapsed, keep the stove turned on & transfer the shrimp to a small plate, removing any browned or burnt garlic.

Melt the ghee in the skillet & add the remaining garlic. Cook until fragrant, this will be quick, 30 seconds - 1 minute so don't walk away.

Stir in the chicken stock & half of the lemon juice, cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens & begins to reduce, stir periodically. While the sauce is reducing, chop the green onion & parsley.

After 5 or so minutes, add the shrimp (with any oil / juices) back into the pan & lightly stir. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt, another dash of paprika, & pepper then cook for at least 2 more minutes. If you'd prefer the shrimp to have a crispy coating, let the shrimp cook for at least another 5 minutes (tip - try not to stir the shrimp too much otherwise it won't crisp up). After one side looks crispy, flip & do the same to the other side.

Turn off the stovetop, add the green onion & chopped parsley then squeeze the other half of lemon on top. Mix everything together & serve warm, recomended over rice :)

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