I buy fresh Gulf shrimp of various sizes from one of two “fresh catch” shops in nearby Chalmette. Peeling and deveining shrimp is a pain, but it must be done. I have no special technique beyond getting the shell off and running a paring knife along the middle of the back to get the black vein out.
One alternative is to buy frozen fresh Gulf shrimp, already peeled and deveined. If you buy frozen, don’t dump it in hot water or the microwave to thaw as this will leech some of the flavor out. Instead put the bag of shrimp in a bowl of warmish water in the sink and give it some time. The best way to defrost is overnight in the refrigerator.
This recipe, which came to me via Ina Garten, is subtle and delicious and makes a welcome change from pastas with heavy red sauce and cheese. It has a very noticeable lemon accent. If you don’t like lemon, reconsider.
Making the shrimp scampi is easy. Dealing with the shrimp and preparing the lemon zest and lemon juice are the most time-consuming steps. I try to do those steps fist, so I can actually enjoy putting this special dish together.
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3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons decent olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound large shrimp (about 16), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 fresh parsley leaves, chopped
Lemon zest, grated from 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/8 teaspoon hot pepper flakes
STEP BY STEP:
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add a quick pour of vegetable oil and linguine. Cook for 7 to 10 minutes, depending on personal preference and package instructions.*
- In another large, heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the shrimp with a bit of salt and black pepper. Sauté until shrimp have turned pink, about 5 minutes. Try not to overcook.
- Remove from heat. Add parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
- When pasta is finished, drain well. Put it back in its pot. Add shrimp mixture. Toss well. Serve lightly topped with grated Parmesan cheese.
* I make the linguine toward the end of the process because it takes me longer than 7 minutes to complete the rest of the steps.