Shrimp Scampi, Cigars and Sous Chefs
I know there are people in the world who do not like shrimp. I am hoping that they are few and far between because, what’s not to like about shrimp? They are pretty. They are a nice color. They taste like the sea. They are a little sweet. They are a little crunchy. They go with lots of things…pasta, rice, risotto, steak, sour dough bread, spicy sauce, butter, garlic, and, of course, wine. And they are good all by themselves. You can also eat them hot or cold. They are truly versatile while being delicious . You can even eat them “cooked” in lime juice (ceviche), without any heat. Amazing little creatures.
I have actually met people who do not like shrimp. One of those people is my oldest son. He will try one that Yes!Chef! has made, especially if it is in a spicy sauce, but he really doesn’t like them. (And everyone knows he is being polite because his mama didn’t raise impolite children.)
There are other people I know who don’t like shrimp, but I will not call them out in this forum. (But, you know who you are.)
Speaking of people who like shrimp, we were honored by having a good friend visit us over the weekend. His wife was out of town, so he decided to spend the time with us. We always enjoy spending time with him and his wife. (In fact, we spent Superbowl weekend with them.) He came bearing gifts…wine and cigars. So, Friday night, he and Yes!Chef! went out on the deck to smoke cigars and drink fine wine. I thought it was a little too cool for those kinds of outdoor activities, but they didn’t seem to mind.
Yes!Chef! had made some Hummus a day before, so we had a little something to offer to go with the wine and cigars. (I’m not sure how well those things paired, but the men seemed to enjoy it.) And, I enjoyed taking some pictures of the two men relishing the evening and their cigars.
Another reason our friend enjoys getting together with Yes!Chef! is so they can cook together. He enjoys learning from Y!C! and being his Sous Chef.
And, he loves shrimp.
He said he came up to our house to cook, so Yes!Chef! put him to work right away (after the wine, hummus and a great cigar) peeling shrimp. These were frozen and cleaned but still had their shells on, so the shrimp was easy to peel.
After this there was a blur of activity with pasta being cooked, garlic and green onions being chopped, butter being clarified, etc. Our new favorite Sous Chef was happy to do anything Y!C! asked of him.
For those of you who do not know how to make clarified butter, here is a simple tutorial with pictures: Making Clarified Butter. It is basically a process of removing the water and the milk solids from the unsalted butter. The advantage of making clarified butter (or ghee) is that it can be used in frying without burning and it apparently keeps longer than unclarified butter. You can see by the above picture, that the scampi requires the butter to be used in the frying pan at a medium temperature…but no burning.
The shrimp cooks quickly, so you will need to watch it carefully. Over-cooked shrimp (like over-cooked anything else) is not something to be desired. You will note that Y!C! had the Sous Chef move the mixture off the heat when the stove top became too hot. He brought the temp back down and the cooking continued.
Meanwhile, Y!C! had blanched the asparagus and started cooking the pasta. The asparagus is blanched so as to retain the beautiful green color when it is cooked. Y!C! usually blanches a bunch of asparagus (or green beans) and stores the unused ones in the refrigerator to be used later in the week. Then, when he wants to use them for a quick weeknight dinner, he throws them in the pan and quickly sautes them. Quick and tasty! Here is a quick article on blanching vegetables: How to Blanch Vegetables.
Yes!Chef! oversees the sauteing of the veggies.
I hurriedly took a picture of the meal as Y!C! served it. I didn’t have time to style and make pretty until after the meal was over (the men were pretty hungry by then and there was no preventing them from eating the meal right away.)
Here’s the recipe from About.com and it is a very quick and easy meal.
- 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp (about 16 to 24)
- 1/3 cup clarified butter
- 4 tablespoons minced garlic
- 6 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh if possible
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse shrimp and set aside. Heat butter in large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic 1 or 2 minutes or until softened but not browned. Add shrimp, green onions, wine and lemon juice; cook until shrimp are pink and firm, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Do not overcook. Add chopped parsley and salt and pepper before serving. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley sprigs if desired. Serves four as a main dish or 8 as a first course.
After dinner, and once the men were safely in front of the tv watching a great movie (Argo), I fixed myself a pretty plate and took some pictures using some artificial continuous lights that I have for table-top photography. I’ve used this little lighting set up several times, and it works great when natural light (which I prefer) is not available.
I prefer to photograph Yes!Chef!’s food on the same day that it is made, but sometimes it is impossible or impractical. Even though the food above was a few hours old, I was able to reheat it a little without making it look like it was reheated food.
I can tell the difference between the artificial light and the diffused window light, but they do look very similar.
This dish is a definite crowd-pleaser for those that love shrimp. The garlic is not pronounced and the shrimp shines! We paired the meal with a great French white wine, which Yes!Chef! also used in the making of the Scampi. You can use any dry white wine you like, just use that same wine when you make the dish and it will pair wonderfully.
PS. We got a pleasant surprise when we found our little blog mentioned on About.com gourmet food as one of their favorite food blogs. Hazahh!