Scampi are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that are part of the lobster family, also called langoustines. In Italy, they are traditionally served sauteed with olive oil, garlic, onion and white wine. When the Italians arrived in America, where shrimp was plentiful and scampi unavailable, they swapped shrimp for scampi.
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 pounds shell-on, extra-large, wild-caught raw Gulf shrimp (26 to 30 per pound)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups of dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 baguette or Rouses French bread loaf, sliced, for serving
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
To peel and devein shrimp, first pull of the head, then peel the shell away from the flesh, starting underneath where the swimming legs are attached. Then, gently pull the meat from tail. Make a shallow incision down the back of shrimp, then use tip of paring knife to remove vein. Set shells and tails aside.
Dissolve salt and sugar in a quart of cold water in large container. Place cleaned shrimp in the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes. Remove shrimp from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add shrimp shells and tails and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to turn spotty brown and the bottom of the skillet starts to brown, 2 to 4 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and slowly pour in wine. Add the thyme sprigs. When bubbling subsides, return the skillet to medium heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Strain mixture through colander set over large bowl. Discard shells and reserve liquid; you should have about 2/3 cup. Wipe out your skillet with paper towels.
Mix lemon juice and cornstarch in a small bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, pepper flakes and pepper in skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and just beginning to brown at edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add reserved wine mixture, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, add shrimp, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp are just opaque, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, with a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a bowl.
Return skillet to medium heat, add lemon juice–cornstarch mixture, and cook until slightly thickened, 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and parsley until combined. Return shrimp and any accumulated juices to skillet and toss to combine. Serve with baguette slices and lemon quarters.