Who doesn’t love shrimp? The little crustacean that could. Sweet, rich in flavor, easy to cook, and they go with just about anything. They come in all different sizes, from all different regions of the world, and because they are bottom feeders, they ‘take’ the regional waters well. Mexican shrimp taste different than Gulf shrimp. Santa Barbara shrimp taste different than Vietnamese shrimp.
Similar to lobster, the real flavor in shrimp is found in the shells. Save them, freeze them, and when enough have been collected, make an incredible bisque, or scampi, or stock, or something that really brings out the wonderful natural flavors.
|Santa Barbara Spotted Prawns|
Scampi is amazing. It’s incredible. It’s everything good about shrimp packed into one dish. It’s shrimp cooked in a shrimp sauce.
The foundation, the ‘method’ is the sauce. Scampi sauce. Like most sauces, it’s nothing more than a series of reductions, layering flavors on top of flavors, and in this case, accentuating the natural sweet flavor of shrimp. It’s easy, rich, flavorful and here is my version:
Prep time: 10 minutes
Active cook time: 20 min
Yields 4 servings
2 cups shrimp shells
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch tarragon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 cups prepared fish stock (or vegetable stock)
2 cups fresh cream
In a medium sauce pot, heat about 2 tbsp vegetable oil and begin to saute shrimp shells. When dark red and fragrant, add the shallots, garlic and herbs. Cook until highly fragrant. Add the peppercorns and tomato paste. Stir the tomato paste until everything is evenly coated. Deglaze with wine. Reduce by 2/3. Add the stock and reduce by 2/3. Add cream and reduce until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with kosher salt, strain, and reserve.
The scampi itself is the next step. I like to cook linguine, saute the shrimp with shallots, garlic, mushrooms, a little Italian sausage and roasted red peppers and finish in the scampi sauce with parmesan cheese. I also love to squeeze 1/2 a lemon over the finished sauce. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it.
Whatever you choose to do, the sauce is dynamite, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.