Shrimp Scampi and Success in the Kitchen

If I have shrimp in the house and ask my dad, “how he would like me to make it,” – he will always say Shrimp scampi, without fail.

Then he will tell me how in 1964 some famous chef taught him how to make scampi, which is by the way exactly how I make it.  However he is compelled to tell me the story.

Then I say, “why don’t you make it?”

“Why should I make it,” he says. “I have you.”

He’s right. He does have me and off I go into the kitchen rolling my eyes wondering why I even ask my dad how he would like me to cook the shrimp.



Having said that, I really do like Shrimp scampi, for the simplicity of the ingredients, how quickly it cooks and of course, how wonderful it tastes.

I have shared the recipe for this dish many a time but I want to talk about mis en place – or preparation in the kitchen.

I am a cooking instructor – teaching both professional and amateur cooks. So many people express fear of cooking or being overwhelmed while cooking.

I have ideas and help.

One, if you are someone who easily gets overwhelmed in the kitchen – stop watching cooking shows, especially on the Food Network. They glamorize cooking and don’t show you the nitty gritty, the mess in the kitchen.

And so when you try to make something, and you don’t find yourself smiling like a fool like most of the hosts of cooking shows do, while looking as though they are having the time of their life – you think you are doing something wrong. You are not doing anything wrong. You are cooking. Cooking can be work, cooking is messy, cooking is a skill that you get better at over time.

Two, lay out all the ingredients you will need for the dish that you are making. This is very helpful for a novice or nervous cook.

IMG_7694This is what I am talking about.

Even though this is a simple dish with very few ingredients, and I cook for a living – I set everything out and then it’s an absolute breeze and pleasure to cook.

1 lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined. I leave the tails on

Many many cloves of garlic

2 lemons

2 tbs. butter (a tsp. will be just fine if you are watching your calories)

1/2 – 3/4 cup white wine

1 tsp. olive oil

red pepper flakes and salt to taste.

parsley for garnish

Heat the oil on a low flame and add half the garlic, sliced. If you cook garlic on low heat to start, you draw out more flavor from it.

In a minute or so, increase the heat and add the shrimp, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook on high heat for about 2 minutes on each side.

Add the wine and stir well.


Next, add the lemon juice, and rest of the garlic minced (you can skip this step with the garlic – I enjoy the strong flavor of crushed garlic along with the more mellow flavor that is in the sliced garlic). When the shrimp is almost cooked – shouldn’t be more than five minutes, add a pat or two of cold butter. Stir well and garnish with parsley.

Taste for seasoning.

Serve with a crusty baguette or


over pasta.

Whether you make this recipe or not, which I hope you do because of it’s simplicity and wonderful flavor – I hope you set yourself up for success in the kitchen.

Prep and place all your ingredients in front of you before you start cooking and I promise you things will be so much easier.

Until I cook again!