Fresh Gulf Shrimp sauteed in butter and olive oil, flavored with tons of garlic, lemon, and white wine. Sounds like Shrimp Scampi? Add a touch of rich tomato flavor and traditional Creole seasonings and you have Sweet Daddy D’s Creole Shrimp Scampi. This is a simple, quick, no-angst Creole Italian recipe that will be enjoyed by the whole family.
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What is Creole Shrimp Scampi?
Shrimp Scampi is a traditional Italian dish using scampi (or langoustines, small, shrimp-like crustaceans of the lobster family), traditionally prepared by sauteing the scampi in olive oil, garlic, onions and white wine. Significant numbers of Southern Italian and Sicilian immigrants entered Louisiana in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries bringing with them their culinary traditions. Since scampi or langoustines were not available in New Orleans and South Louisiana they adapted fresh Gulf Shrimp for this classic seafood dish, keeping the name “scampi” to refer to the traditional process.
My interpretation adds a touch of tomato flavor and Creole seasoning to the abundance of garlic, butter, and lemon. This changes the appearance of traditional scampi recipes and deepens the flavor profile. Although not a common menu item in many Creole restaurants, I think this recipe gives a glimpse of what I refer to as Creole Italian cuisine.
Here’s What You Need
Check out the Hints and Tips Section (FAQs) below for substitutions.
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
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Here’s What You Do
First…you have a beer. We always want to start with the right frame of mind. This simple recipe goes together quickly if you are prepared. That includes the cook as well as the ingredients. Pop the top off of a beer or maybe have a glass of wine while you read the recipe from top to bottom. Learn what ingredients and equipment you need and what you will do with each one. Continue the mise en place, then all you have to do is assemble the recipe. Simple, no angst.
Mise en place
If using fresh shrimp, peel and devein them. Whether using fresh or frozen shrimp, rinse the cleaned shrimp in cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Mix in 1 tablespoon of creole seasoning and set aside.
If you are serving this with pasta, place a pot of salted water over high heat and cook the pasta al dente according to package direction. Drain the pasta and reserve about a half cup of pasta water.
Combine the Herb and Spice Blend together in a small prep bowl. Thinly slice the garlic and shallots and set aside in a prep bowl, chop the parsley. Zest and juice the lemon. Measure out all other ingredients.
Start with the shrimp
What happens in this step? This recipe makes a delicious buttery, lemony, garlicky sauce but it's all for naught if the shrimp is overcooked. To make sure that doesn't happen, we saute the shrimp for a couple of minutes to start, then add them back during the last few minutes as the sauce is finishing. Perfect every time.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a saute pan over high heat. When the butter is bubbly, add the shrimp and saute for about 1 minute on each side. Remove the shrimp from the saute pan and set them aside.
Make the sauce
What happens in this step? We build the base for the Creole scampi sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the olive oil to the pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallots and garlic; saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the tomato paste to the onions and garlic and mix thoroughly. Stir continuously for about 2 minutes.
Next, mix in the Herb and Spice Blend and saute another 1 minute. The Herbs and Spice Blend will slightly roast, helping to intensify their flavors.
Add the wine and lemon juice and bring it to a heavy simmer. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly. Lower the heat and maintain a simmer until the sauce reduces by about half. This may take 5 to 10 minutes.
Add the lemon zest and red pepper flakes, if using, and stir to combine.
Finish the dish
What happens in this step? Now that we have the foundation of the scampi sauce, it's time to finish with more butter and the shrimp.
Increase the heat to medium-high again while you add 4 tablespoons of butter to the saute pan. Shake the pan back and forth as the butter melts.
Tip: If your sauce is separating, try shaking the pan back and forth (instead of stirring).
Add the reserved shrimp (plus any juice that has accumulated) back to the pan and saute for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan back and forth.
Finish with 1 more tablespoon of butter, continuing to shake the pan in a back and forth movement until melted.
Remove the scampi from the heat and serve. This goes well with pasta, grits, rice, or just some crispy french bread.
If serving with pasta, here are three ways to do that:
- Add the pasta a little at a time to the pan with the scampi and mix well. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to help bind everything.
- Add the pasta to a plate and ladle the scampi on top.
- Serve Creole Shrimp Scampi along side the pasta.
Sprinkle some parmesan cheese (optional) and more parsley on top and serve immediately.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
Yes, if you don't have fresh shrimp available, or you just don’t feel like messing with peeling and deveining, use frozen. You can usually find frozen shrimp in your grocery freezer case or your favorite seafood market. Still, freshness is the key, so make sure you purchase from a reliable source.
You have to account for the weight of the shells and heads. If you can get shrimp with heads and shells on, you should buy at least 2 pounds to net 1 pound after peeling. If you have shrimp with only the shells (without heads), you should only need about 1 ½ pounds. The size of the shrimp will impact this.
This recipe is best with large or jumbo shrimp. A good size is anything less than 25-count shrimp, meaning there are approximately 25 shrimp in each pound. That being said, if all you have is small or medium shrimp, they will work fine. For more information on shrimp sizes, check out my article about just that!
I always save the heads and shells of fresh shrimp to make stock. You can freeze the shells until you have enough for stock.
Nope, if you aren't into pasta or just cutting back on the carbs, this dish can be served with rice or grits or just a green salad and lots of crispy french bread for sopping up the delicious sauce.
Yes, a completed recipe can be held in the fridge for 2 to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months, then reheated (see below) and served when you want it. If cooking this recipe in advance, I advise slightly undercooking the shrimp as they will cook a little more when reheating.
Leftovers (or a recipe cooked in advance) need to be kept in a shallow, air-tight container. Once you have cooked the recipe, cool it down quickly in a glass or metal bowl set inside a large bowl of ice. Once cooled, add the scampi to an appropriate air-tight container. This can be held in the fridge for 2 to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If frozen, thaw the Creole Shrimp Scampi overnight in the fridge. This can be reheated in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until warmed through (about 10-15 minutes) or in a microwave at about half power. However, I really don't recommend either of these methods. I prefer to reheat the thawed shrimp scampi in a skillet or saute pan on top of the stove. The reason for this is that it is easy to overcook the shrimp using the oven or microwave while sauteeing gives you more control.
It’s natural for the butter fats and milk solids to separate when being heated. This is especially prevalent when reheating the sauce. To combat this, reheat slowly, shaking the pan back and forth to help keep things together. Sometimes you can use a few splashes of cold water (start with one tablespoon) to help recreate the emulsion.
Use chicken or shrimp stock in place of the wine. You can also use water.
Here are some other great shrimp recipes from Sweet Daddy D
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Yeah You Right!
Creole Shrimp Scampi
Here's What You Need
- 1 pound large to jumbo shrimp peeled, de-viened and rinsed (see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons butter in all (divided)
- ½ cup shallots about 1 medium shallot-sliced thin
- 5 cloves garlic sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice about ½ lemon
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Plus some for the shrimp
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon dry basil
- ¼ teaspoon dry thymes
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes Optional
Here's What You Do
- Peel, wash and devein shrimp; pat dry with a paper towel. Combine shrimp with 1 tablespoon of creole seasoning and set aside.
- Thinly slice garlic and shallots and set aside. Zest the lemon and squeeze its juice. Slice the butter into tablespoon sizes pieces. Measure out all other ingredients.
- Cook pasta to al dente according to package direction; drain and reserve about a ¼ cup of pasta water.
Prepare the Scampi
- Place a saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter. When bubbling, saute the shrimp for about 1 minute on each side. Remove the shrimp from saute pan and set them aside.
- Add the olive oil to the pan. When shimmering, add the shallots and garlic; saute for about 2 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste. Mix completely into the onions and garlic, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes.
- Add the Herb and Spice Blend. Mix all ingredienst and saute another 1 minute.
- Lower the heat to medium and add the wine and lemon juice. Mix to combine and simmer until reduced by about half. This may take 5 to 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and add the lemon zest and red pepper flakes, if using. Stir to combine.
- Add 4 tablespoons of butter.
- When the butter is almost melted, add back the reserved shrimp and saute for about 4 minutes, shaking the pan back and forth.
- Finish by adding 1 more tablespoon of butter, shaling the pan. When the butter has melted, add the parsley to finish.
- Remove from the heat. Serve with pasta, rice, grits or simply crispy french bread. There are at least two ways to handle the pasta: 1) add the pasta a little at a time to the pan and mix well with the scampi. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water to help bind everything. 2) add the pasta to a plate and ladle the scampi on top.
- Sprinkle some parmesan cheese (optional) and more parsley on top. Serve immediately.