Shrimp Scampi

My parents used to make this for special occasions, especially their anniversary. I loved it! They would also make it with scallops, but would cook the two seafood separately since I don’t like scallops. This recipe is a bit fancier than what they would make since their recipe was more “a bit of this and a bit of that…and a healthy bit of wine” but it reminds me of those special nights all the same.

I’ve made this twice now, and the first time was as directed with shell-on shrimp, and it was amazing. The second time was still tasty, but the shrimp not quite as tender…I also used shrimp that only had the tail still on. It’s not that I needed the extra work done for me, but the place I went to didn’t carry raw shrimp with a full shell. Next time, I will try the full shell again to see if it is as amazing, and then I will update to specify that…otherwise, I will still say it is delicious either way. I wouldn’t do this with the shells completely off, though, since you need them to help flavor the sauce.

I know the shrimp doesn’t look like much, but it has so much flavor and was so so so tender! Barely any chewing required. Not like any shrimp I had had before…but again, it was less tender when I didn’t get the full shell variety, so I will remember that for next time.

If you worry about cooking with the shells being fussy, it really isn’t. You simply put the shells into a bowl instead of directly into the trash, and then trash them later anyway. Very easy.

Notes for the shrimp: You want them untreated. Check the label/ingredients. It should just be shrimp, no chemicals, etc. If you opt to use smaller shrimp, you will need to reduce the cooking time. As I said above, full shells seems to be best for this recipe, but you might be able to find them deveined and “easy peel” to help things along.

Directions for Shrimp Scampi

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 3 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1.5-2 pounds shell-on jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, shells reserved
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (can serve with lemon wedges, too)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced thin (not minced)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, but into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water, in a large bowl. Submerge the shrimp in the brine, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat to add the wine and thyme.

Then return it to medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture with a colander over a liquid measuring cup. If you don’t have 2/3 cup, then add a bit of water to make up the difference.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper in the skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

After 2-4 minutes when the garlic is starting to brown, add the wine mixture you strained earlier, then increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shrimp, cover, and cook. Stir occasionally, cooking until the shrimp are opaque (5 minutes).

Remove from the heat and transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Return the skillet to medium heat, then add the lemon/cornstarch mixture. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and whisk (I used my fish spatula) in the butter and parsley.

Add the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the skillet, stirring to combine. Serve.

Directions for Shrimp Scampi (without pictures)

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

  • 3 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1.5-2 pounds shell-on jumbo (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed, shells reserved
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice (can serve with lemon wedges, too)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced thin (not minced)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 Tablespoons butter, but into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Dissolve the salt and sugar in the water, in a large bowl. Submerge the shrimp in the brine, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Remove the shrimp and pat dry with paper towels.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat to add the wine and thyme. Then return it to medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Strain the mixture with a colander over a liquid measuring cup. If you don’t have 2/3 cup, then add a bit of water to make up the difference.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil with the garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper in the skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. After 2-4 minutes when the garlic is starting to brown, add the wine mixture you strained earlier, then increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shrimp, cover, and cook. Stir occasionally, cooking until the shrimp are opaque (5 minutes). Remove from the heat and transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Return the skillet to medium heat, then add the lemon/cornstarch mixture. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk (I used my fish spatula) in the butter and parsley. Add the shrimp and any accumulated juices to the skillet, stirring to combine. Serve.

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