Friday, July 20, 2012

Fire Roasted Shrimp Scampi

Shrimp scampi was one of my favorite seafood dishes in my late teens to early twenties.  The garlicky aroma, the velvety butter sauce, and fresh Florida shrimp made me a happy dude.

So you can imagine my disappointment when later in life I found out that there was no such thing as "shrimp scampi".   It was just about as bad as finding out that there is no "Santa Claus".  The dish I had been so enthralled with was a lie!  

Scampi isn't a dish.  It is the Italian name for a small lobster also called Norway lobster, Dublin Bay Prawns, or langoustine [Davidson].   The "shrimp scampi" dishes that typically show up on American menus are shrimp, garlic, butter, and wine.  No scampi added.  

But like the propagandist  motto says, "If you repeat a lie often enough it becomes the truth".  The misuse of the term has been so prevalent that now most dictionaries include a secondary definition of Scampi that includes the American shrimp dish [Epicurious].

So this is the shrimp scampi dish that I made for an appetizer this week - or it isn't.  

This is a quick but delicious dish that can be an appetizer or just double the portions and add pasta for an entree.  It has minimal prep and cook times.  If you're having a cookout or tailgate, this dish is one way to really impress your friends with your grilling skills.  But you could also prepare this in your oven or under a broiler.

Fire Roasted Shrimp Scampi
serves:  4 appetizers or 2 entrees 

  • 20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 3/4 lb of 26-30 ct shrimp)
  • 1/4 cup coarse chopped garlic
  • 6 Tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • black pepper
  • 1 lemon halve
  • Kosher salt
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 450f set up for indirect grilling.
  2. Divide the shrimp into 4 au gratin dishes (or other oven safe ceramic dishes).  Add the butter, garlic, and wine.  Season each dish with a pinch of fresh ground black pepper.
  3. Roast the shrimp in the grill with the lid closed until they turn pink, about 7 minutes.
  4. Remove and sqeeze the lemon* halve over the dishes to give each just a splash.  Season each dish with a pinch or two of salt.  Garnish with a little parsley if you like. 
  5. Serve with crispy toasted garlic bread.
  • I like to grill my lemon cut side down over direct heat for 1 or 2 minutes at the end for a flavor boost.
Make sure the butter is touching ceramic so it will melt faster.

Instead of the traditional offset indirect method, I just put a piece of stoneware between the dishes and the hot coals.  You could do the same with a pizza stone. 

Shrimp have a built in cooking timer - their tails! 

This was a big hit for all of us and it disappeared in no time.  The toast is mandatory!  It is so good to sop up the garlic butter left in the bowl.