Falsetti: Boost your shrimp scampi with flavorful sauce

Julie Falsetti
For The York Dispatch

It’s hard being a food snob, especially when there are large gaps in your knowledge. In restaurants, I was often amused when I saw “shrimp scampi” listed on the menu. I always thought it redundant to name a dish twice using different languages. Fortunately, I managed to keep my thoughts to myself.

Scampi is not the Italian name for shrimp. Scampi is a lobster-like crustacean found in the cold waters of the Atlantic. Though quite delicious, it is expensive and hard to find. Italian immigrants to the new world found shrimp to be an adequate substitute for their beloved languistines. Because they used the same preparation, the classic dish of shrimp scampi was christened.

Most modern presentations of shrimp scampi combine it with pasta. Linguine is traditionally paired with oil/butter sauces, as its flat surface is a good medium for soaking up the thin sauce. Boiling the shrimp shells might seem like an extra step, but you will definitely notice a flavor bump in the sauce.

Because shrimp is the primary ingredient, it is important to consider what type to buy. Ninety-four percent of all shrimp sold in the United States is imported, and almost all of that is farm raised. Although it is the FDA’s job to test imported shrimp for drugs and chemicals, more than 604,000 metric tons were imported last year, so the job of inspecting all shrimp imports is daunting.

Although it costs more, for my peace of mind I prefer eating wild-caught shrimp. If you can’t find any wild caught, look for the Naturland label on farm-raised shrimp. It indicates that the shrimp are farmed following guidelines that prohibit overstocking and the use of chemicals and antibiotics. It also ensures that the shrimp are fed food made of sustainably caught fish meal and that farms do not use forced labor.

Shrimp Scampi

11/2 pounds large or extra-large raw shrimp

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1 pound linguine (reserve one cup of the cooking water before draining)

Shell the shrimp, reserving the shells. Place the shells in a small pot with the wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until the wine is reduced by about half (no need to measure). Strain out the shells and reserve the wine.

In a large skillet over a medium flame, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, salt and plenty of black pepper, then lower to a simmer.

Add the shrimp and sauté until they just turn pink, 2 to 4 minutes depending upon their size. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Add the cooked pasta and toss well. If the sauce looks too thin, add the reserved pasta water as needed.

Cooking note:

Save that ham bone from your Christmas dinner. Cover it with water along with any leftover celery and onions, and simmer covered for an hour to make a fragrant stock.

— Julie Falsetti, a York native, comes from a long line of good cooks. Her column, From Scratch, runs twice monthly in The York Dispatch food section. Reach her with questions and comments at