On our recent trip to Gaeta, a small town on the coast of Lazio, we enjoyed some delicious seafood, but the one dish that absolutely stands out in my mind was my dish of gamberi rosse (red shrimp) quick fried in a pan with olive oil and garlic. You may wonder how something so simple could possibly taste so good, but it was the freshness of the seafood, and the quick cooking preparation that turned simple shrimp into amazing. The one thing I also loved about this dish when it was served to me was that the chef cut away the shell body, but left on the tails and heads. It was great to pick the shrimp up by their tails and bite the sweet flesh, and then you can (if you are not squeamish) suck out the garlicky oil from the head. We spoke to the chef at Ristorante Odissea in Gaeta about our dinner and I told him how much I loved my shrimp but I never asked him exactly how he cooked them. It seemed so simple though, so that when I got back to Umbria I bought some shrimp a few days later to tackle this dish on my own.
Unfortunately, fresh shrimp are not easy to find in Umbria which is a landlocked region, and I am sure the sweet red shrimp I enjoyed in Gaeta are impossible to obtain here. I did get adventurous though and bought previously frozen shrimp to try and replicate this dish. Of course previously frozen shrimp will never taste as wonderful as shrimp that were taken from the sea hours before, but I must say when I was done, my shrimp were pretty darn terrific. Because previously frozen shrimp are soft once thawed, I couldn’t leave on the heads, but I did leave on the tails which make them easy to eat as finger food. If you are lucky enough to have access to fresh shrimp, please try this easy recipe to prepare them and I’m sure you’ll love it. This would make a great appetizer year round, although I could eat a big plate of these myself for my main course. The most important step to this dish is the actual cooking of the shrimp. You want them just barely cooked through, if overcooked they will be too firm and my dry out, but if you cook them just until they turn pink, they will remain moist and tender.
The gorgeous red shrimp from Gaeta.
Just a handful of ingredients needed!
Delicious, succulent, finger licking good!
Deborah Mele 2012
Garlicky Pan Fried Shrimp
A quick & easy way to prepare shrimp.
- 1 Pound Shrimp (Fresh Preferred – See Note Above)
- 3 Large Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Sliced In Half
- 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coarse Sea Salt
- Cracked Black Peppers
- Pinch of Red Hot Chili Flakes
- Lemon Wedges
- Clean the shrimp, removing the body only if desired. (See note above)
- In a large skillet, heat the oil until sizzling, then add the garlic, salt, pepper & chili flakes and cook until fragrant. (Do not brown garlic)
- Add the shrimp and cook for about 5 minutes, or until cooked, on medium high heat, tossing frequently to cook evenly.
- Serve immediately with wedges of lemon.