Shrimp Scampi

Close-up of Chef Debra's hands using kitchen scissors to chop and slice herbs. She is wearing a green chef's coat.

Yield: 4 servings

Recipe Note: Shrimp Scampi is a delicious fresh recipe that comes together quickly. It is beautiful in its lemon and garlic simplicity or you can make it your own with your choices of spices and added vegetables, fresh or sautéd. The shrimp will be lightly sautéd and then poached in a garlic butter lemon sauce. 

 The recipe is broken down into 6 sections:  

  1. Prepare the herbs and citrus
  2. Brine the shrimp
  3. Cook the pasta
  4. Saute the garlic and shrimp
  5. Make the sauce
  6. Pull it all together

Ingredients:

  • One pound thawed peeled and deveined large or jumbo shrimp 

Shrimp Tips:

  1. Deveining shrimp with vision loss is one of the few tasks I have not figured out a way to do correctly and with confidence. The shells and tail are not helpful for this recipe so I prefer it be deveined, with the shell and tail already removed.  
  2. You can buy frozen cooked shrimp instead and skip the sauté step for the shrimp. Just add the thawed brined cooked shrimp in at the same time as the cooked pasta and cook over low heat until just heated through.
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus 4 “trees” for garnish.
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large lemons
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic
  • 4 teaspoons dried herbs of your choice

Recipe Note: You can use Italian herb blend, basil, marjoram, oregano or any dried herb of your choice. Alternatively, a good choice is “Old Bay Seasoning” blend which is a store bought blend of spices used in many seafood recipes. It is packaged in a distinctive rectangular tin that makes it easy to identify with just a touch of your fingers. It is a blend of celery salt, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, dry mustard, cardamom, cayenne and black pepper. 

  • Cayenne Pepper or red chili flakes to taste (optional)
  • One and one half cup lemon flavored liquid blend: lemon/water blend, vegetable stock/lemon blend, or white wine/water/lemon blend

Recipe Note: If using wine, use a wine that you would drink.  “Cooking wines” are notoriously salty and bitter.

  • 8 ounces stick pasta of your choice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 to 6 ounces raw baby spinach or raw baby arugula (optional)

Recipe Tip: The heat from the hot food will be enough to wilt the greens to a pleasant texture and a little crunch. The greens will retain their vitamins, minerals and fiber if consumed uncooked. The dark green color of the greens will add to the presentation of the dish.

Method:

Step 1:  Wash, zest  and juice 2 large lemons.  Set aside.

Recipe Note: Make sure to check for produce stickers before you zest the lemons. It is easier and cleaner to remove the zest from any whole citrus before you cut it. Set the lemon juice aside.

TBK Tools: Mini Box Grater, Cut Glove, and Mesh Strainer

Step 2: Cut the remaining lemon into 4 slices or wedges for garnish. Set aside.

TBK Tool: Slicing Guide

Step 3: Set aside 4 parsley “trees” for garnish. Then chop enough parsley leaves into small pieces to produce 4 tablespoons of chopped parsley. Set aside.

Recipe Tip: Place the parsley leaves in a small bowl and use scissors held tip down inside the bowl to cut the parsley. This works beautifully and keeps the small pieces contained in the dish and your fingers are safely away from the blades of the scissors.

Closeup of Chef Debra's hands using kitchen scissors to chop and slice herbs. She is wearing a green chef's coat.
Chef Debra “chopping” parsley for the Shrimp Scampi with kitchen scissors. She is cutting the herbs into a small bowl.

Step 4:  Peel and slice 6 to 8 cloves of garlic

TBK Tools: Garlic Peeler and Mini Box Grater

Recipe Note: Diced or minced garlic can overpower this dish because more surface area is exposed and also the texture can become gritty. The slices produce a milder flavor and a nicer texture for this small amount of sauce and short cooking time. If using the mini box grater, use the side that has only one blade on it. It works beautifully!

Step 5: Brine the shrimp. Put thawed shrimp into a large resealable bag.

TBK Tool: Bag Holder

Step 6: Whisk together 2 teaspoons salt (omit salt if using Old Bay Seasoning blend), 2 tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon dried seasoning of your choice (omit if using Old Bay), and 2 cups of water. 

TBK Tools: Dry Measure Spoons and Wet Measure Cups

Pour the brine mixture into the bag with the shrimp and reseal the bag. Massage the bag gently to be sure each shrimp is coated with the brining solution. Refrigerate for up to 20 minutes while you make the pasta.

Step 7: Make one and a half cups of seasoned lemony liquid. The liquid should be a combination of your choice of the lemon-flavored liquid blends (lemon/water, lemon/wine/water, or lemon/vegetable broth). Add 2 teaspoons of the dried herb or herb blend of your choice that you used in the brine. Mix and set aside.

Recipe Tip: Adding dried spices to liquid before they are placed in a hot pan, allows them to “bloom” or rehydrate and flavor the liquid.

Step 8: Cook eight ounces pasta of your choice in salted water to desired tenderness. Drain and set aside.

TBK Tools:  Pasta Portioner, Salt Cellar, Boil Alert Disk, and Side Strainer

Recipe Note: Do not add oil to the pasta water or rinse the cooked pasta. Sauces stick better to pasta that has starch remaining on it and the remaining starches will help to thicken the sauce. Once the hot water drains, allow the pasta to cool on a clean surface such as a work tray, large platter or a rimmed baking sheet. Be sure to separate the pasta strings as much as possible so it will not be stuck together in a lump. You will rewarm the cooked pasta before serving it.

Step 9: Drain the shrimp but do not rinse. Pat dry with paper towels and set aside.

Step 10: Sauté the garlic 

In a pan that is large enough to hold the shrimp in a single layer (or cook in batches) melt 4 tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. You should just be able to hear a soft sizzle.

TBK Tools: Butter Slicer, Auto Measure Spout, and Long Wood Spoon

Recipe Tip: a deep sauté pan with straight 3-inch sides (not sloped) is ideal for sautéing with sight loss. The sides act as “walls” to help keep the cooking food in the pan when stirring and the pan side height is not high enough to risk steaming the food.

Add the sliced garlic. The sound should remain a low sizzle. Cook for one to 2 minutes stirring constantly just until the garlic is fragrant.

Recipe Tip: Garlic burns quickly especially when it is thinly sliced.  Keep the heat low enough to produce just a slight sizzling sound.

Step 10: Cook the shrimp – Add the shrimp in a single layer and allow to cook for 2 minutes. You are not browning the shrimp, just slightly cooking it. Stir well and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat while removing it from the pan with a slotted spoon. Do not overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery.

Recipe Tip: It takes some time to get all of the shrimp out when you have sight loss. Turning off the pan but allowing it to remain on the burner allows the fats in the pan to stay warm without overcooking the shrimp.

Step 11: Turn the heat back on to medium and add the one and one-half cup of seasoned lemon liquid to the pan. Allow to cook for 5 to 6 minutes to combine the shrimpy garlic butter to the seasoned liquid. Do not bring to a boil.

Recipe Tip: The shrimp will be added to the pan in the next step.  Boiling shrimp will certainly guarantee a rubbery outcome.

Step 12: Add in remaining 2 tablespoons of cold butter and stir for one minute more, so the butter has a chance to melt. Turn the heat to low and add all of the shrimp to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes until the shrimp is safe to consume, to a minimum internal temperature of 120 degrees.

TBK Tool: Talking Thermometer

Step 13: Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.  

Step 14: Add in the cooked pasta and stir just until the pasta is coated and heated through.

Plating the Shrimp Scampi:

Put a bed of raw baby spinach or raw baby arugula on each plate or pasta bowl (optional).

Top with a serving of hot pasta and shrimp. Select 3 shrimp and arrange nicely on top of each serving.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon chopped parsley on each serving

Garnish with a lemon wedge or slice and a parsley tree.

Recipe Tip: In the process of transferring the saucy food to the plate, dribbles are not uncommon. Be sure to wipe the edges of each plate with a damp paper towel before serving just to be sure.

Enjoy!

Next steps

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