Why It Works
- Sprinkling the shrimp with baking soda before cooking them guarantees that they'll remain moist and tender, even when cooked over high heat.
- Vermouth and a mixture of fresh herbs add more flavor than the more common recipes that call for white wine and parsley.
- By vigorously stirring the butter into the vermouth in the pan, we create an emulsified sauce that is smooth and silky, not oily and greasy.
To get the most flavor in this shrimp scampi, we use vermouth instead of white wine and a mix of fragrant herbs—parsley, tarragon, and chives—instead of just parsley. The silky butter sauce, meanwhile, is brightened with a splash of fresh lemon juice and fresh lemon zest. It's a quick, easy, one-pot Italian-American classic with just enough extra flavor and flair to make it special.
- 1 pound (450g) large shrimp, peeled and split down the back, veins removed
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
- 4 teaspoons (25g) minced garlic (4 to 5 medium cloves)
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup (120ml) dry vermouth
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh juice and 1 teaspoon (4g) grated zest from 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons (6g) minced parsley, tarragon, and chives
In a large bowl, toss together shrimp with 3/4 teaspoon (3g) kosher salt and baking soda until evenly coated. Let stand for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.
In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil over high heat until shimmering. Add half of shrimp in an even layer and cook, stirring and turning shrimp occasionally, until pink, barely cooked through, and just starting to turn lightly golden in spots, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, flexible slotted offset spatula, or tongs, transfer shrimp to a plate. Repeat with remaining shrimp, adding more oil if necessary.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon (15ml) olive oil to skillet along with garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until garlic is just starting to turn golden, about 1 minute; lower heat if necessary to prevent scorching.
Add vermouth and boil over high heat, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until raw alcohol smell is mostly gone and vermouth has reduced by about half, about 3 minutes.
Add butter and cook, stirring and swirling pan rapidly as butter melts to create a silky, emulsified sauce. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, and season with salt. Return to medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. (If sauce breaks, whisk in a teaspoon or two of water until sauce emulsifies again.)
Return shrimp to skillet, add herbs and lemon zest, and toss until shrimp are coated in sauce and warmed through. Serve immediately.
This dish can be served with pasta. To do so, cook linguine or other long noodles until al dente, then toss in the pan with shrimp and sauce, adding a little pasta-cooking water to bind it all together.