Only once in my life did I have shrimp scampi prepared and served perfectly in a restaurant, and that was in Little Creek, DE and I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was close to but was not the Log Cabin®. Never did I have great shrimp scampi in anyone’s home. I am now correcting that deficiency.
What constitutes perfect? Well, it was served in an oblong dish that had about ¾ of a cup of basmatic (or wild) rice in the center forming an oval mound. The shrimp were arranged around the mound of rice, with the tail sections pointing up towards the center. The dish was about 5/8" deep in hot melted garlic butter, which covered the bottom half of the rice, kind of like a moat around the rice. The inside perimeter of the dish had six crisp toast points dipped into the melted garlic butter arranged around the shrimp. Everything was served hot, which was great, and the garlic was notable.
The recipe below is one of the ones I found on the Internet and it seemed closest to what I think was used. I have modified it to achieve what I want. Do not be put off by the amount of butter … it is necessary for cooking and serving but you don’t have to eat all of it.
Either basmatic or wild rice is suitable for this dish, but ordinary white or brown rice is definitely not good for it is too soft and absorbent for a melted butter environment. Both basmatic and wild rice remain fairly firm after cooking, which is the objective, plus, they taste better.
Use four oblong individual serving dishes, about nine to ten inches long and four inches wide and 1½ inches deep. Preheat them in a warm 200ºF oven.
Prepare the rice per package instructions. Keep it covered and warm in a 200ºF oven.
Melt the butter in a one and one half or two quart saucepan. Add the chopped scallions and chopped garlic; cook 3 minutes. Add the parsley, salt, pepper and wine; simmer 2 minutes and set aside.
Pour a small amount of the garlic butter mixture into a skillet. Sauté the shrimp in batches, adding more butter mixture as needed. Normally about two or three minutes per side will be enough, depending on the size of the shrimp and the depth of the garlic butter. Do not overcook the shrimp. The idea is you want to cook them through but you don’t want to form a tough surface on the shrimp.
Put the sautéed shrimp on a plate and keep them in the pre-warmed oven.
Sauté the red pepper slices in the pan; then add the rest of the butter mixture.
Prepare four oblong dishes with oval mounds of rice in the center, about 1¼ inches high in the center. Arrange the shrimp around the rice. Pour the butter mixture into each dish slowly, first around the outside of the shrimp and then spoon a small amount gently over the shrimp and rice. Garnish the dish with fresh chopped parsley. Place the dishes in the warm oven.
Make the toast and cut each piece into four toast points.
Serve the shrimp scampi, dipping the points of the six toast points into the melted garlic butter inside the perimeter of each oblong dish. Place a lemon wedge in the top center of the rice for those who may want to use it on the shrimp.
Enjoy … and I know you will. I recommend drinking a dry white French burgundy wine with this meal. Louis Jadot® Pouille Fuisse is the perfect wine, though you might alternatively use/serve various brands of Pinot Grigio. Avoid all sweet wines for they will destroy everything good about the meal. Serve some ice water too.
Beer is an alternative beverage, and a light beer will be best if you choose to drink beer as it will clear your palate best between bites of the garlicky seafood.
For those who prefer pasta to rice, I suggest preparing a pound of angel hair pasta and serving the shrimp scampi in four large round shallow bowls, trying to keep the building of the dish similar to the recipe above. Then, after serving, some folks may want some freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano or Locatel cheese on top of the pasta.