I remember the first time I saw shrimp scampi on a menu. I must have been around 13 years old or so, because it was at an age where my parents were getting comfortable taking my brother (2 years younger than me) and I out to respectable establishments for dinner. We were at an Italian restaurant of good reputation in my hometown in Oregon. I remember the word “scampi” sounded very luxurious to my as-yet untrained ears, and the idea of having shrimp along with it sounded intriguing indeed. I ordered it, having absolutely no idea what to expect.
When the dish arrived, I dug in, and immediately became a believer. It was served with pasta, and was the perfect balance to me at the time of something familiar (noodles!) and something new (buttery garlicky shrimp in a…white wine sauce). Everything tasted so, so delicious and it made me feel so…adult! I made it my go-to dish for the restaurant, and teenage me felt so fancy being able to request a dish called “scampi” with confidence!
It did not occur to me to try making it myself until many years later. An aunt made shrimp scampi pasta one night, and when I realized it was a dish that could actually be enjoyed in the comfort of my own home, I decided I needed to try it out for myself. It was this investigation that led me to what is now one of my absolute favorite recipes for shrimp scampi: a simple, quick, but highly satisfying rendition from Gourmet (via Epicurious).
This variation includes garlic, red pepper flakes, and white wine. It looks beautiful and fussy when you put it on a plate, but takes little time to prepare (especially if you’re an expert shrimp peeler and de-veiner), and therefore makes an excellent date night dish. It feels decadent. It is undoubtedly packed with calories (I don’t have the heart to look all the data up), but it is one of those special sorts of dishes that you cook because you want to feel good and this recipe does that every time.
I cooked this recently for the first time in years, and I was shocked again at just how remarkably delicious it is. I cannot believe I went this long without making it. I desperately want to cook it again, but for another person, and will therefore attempt to lure a date with photos of this dish. My only regret when I make this is that I do not have a stomach large enough to accommodate two servings.
For the recipe, check out Epicurious (and all the positive reviews).