Many food historians have determined that the Italian word “Scampi” originated in Venice. The first time the word “Scampi” is used in the United States can be found in a 1920 menus, referring to “Shrimp Scampi” cooked in garlic, butter, lemon juice, and white wine. Italian food in general became very popular in the United States after World War 2. During this time the use of the word “Scampi” in Italian restaurants was used to describe a myriad of shrimp dishes.
According to Christopher Setterlund’s book, Historic Restaurants of Cape Cod, Rose’s Restaurant in Dennis was known for its delicious Italian food including shrimp scampi. Setterlund writes that, “People came from all over the Cape, from Chatham to Provincetown, to enjoy lasagna, stuffed shells, veal marsala, shrimp scampi….”
Here is a recipe for broiled shrimp with garlic butter that may have been served in the finest Italian restaurants from Venice to the Cape.
Scampi Alla Griglia
Serves 6 (can be used as appetizer as well as entrée)
4 lbs. 21- 25 shrimp
¾ c. butter
¾ c. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
¼ c. finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven broiler to 400 degrees.
Shell shrimp but do not remove tail. Today some purchased shrimp have the intestinal vein already removed. If it has not been removed use sharp knife to cut shrimp and remove vein. Wash shrimp under cold water, use paper towel to pat dry. In a shallow baking dish (large enough for all the layered shrimp) melt butter over low heat. Stir extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice shallots, garlic, salt and ground pepper to taste; add shrimp and turn until they glisten on all sides. Broil 6 for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and firm to touch. Transfer shrimp large serving platter. Pour garlic sauce from pan; scatter chopped parsley on platter. Optional garnish: lemon quarters.
Serve with a baguette and enjoy.