Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gamberi a Veneto

Venetian Cuisine!  Delicious!

     Shrimp cooked in the style of Venice Italy, is one of the most popular shrimp recipes that there is.  Only the shrimp cocktail is more popular.  Shrimp scampi is what many American chefs call this recipe.
     I have cooked over 10,000 orders of this Gamberi a Veneto recipe in my lifetime.  In America, Gamberi a Veneto is called Shrimp Scampi.  Scampi are actually a small kind of shrimp that are caught in the Aegean Sea.  For Italian immigrants, the name Shrimp Scampi is confusing.  First generation Italians that I have worked with in kitchens just scratch their heads in confusion, when they hear someone call off an order of shrimp scampi.  To Italians shrimp scampi means "shrimp shrimp."
     Scampi a Veneto is a very old Italian recipe that comes from the age of when Venice was the gourmet food capitol of the world.  Viennese and French cooking have origins in Venetian cuisine.  A true Scampi a Veneto is sauteed and never broiled or baked.  Fresh lemon is the key to a great Scampi a Veneto.
     Old Venetian cuisine did not always have a reputation for light crisp lively flavors.  Heavy rich polenta recipes are still very popular in Venice.  There are heavy pre colombian meat recipes that are still cooked in Venice.  Pastas in Venice tend to not be made with meats.  Vegetable flavored pasta entrees and seafood entrees are much more popular there.  Many classic Italian dessert recipes, like tiramisu, have origins in Venice.
     The modern traditional style of Venetian seafood cuisine is to make the brightest, cleanest flavors from the fewest ingredients.  In zuppas, pastas and entrees, basic Venetian seafood flavors are usually white wine, lemon and a tasteful touch of garlic.  This flavor combination is a recurring theme in Venetian cuisine.  Even with the classic Venetian calves liver entree, Fegato di vitello a Veneto, the traditional hallmark Venetian light flavor combination accented with lemon turns that liver entree into a light enjoyable experience.
     A butter, olive oil, garlic, shallot, white wine, parsley and lemon sauce for scampi or shrimp is known as "a Veneto" in Italian.  Instead of the American name Shrimp Scampi, the recipe truly should be called Shrimp a Veneto or Shrimp cooked in the style of Venice.  In Italian it would be Gamberi a Veneto.  If you can get fresh Aegean Sea scampi for this recipe, then call it Scampi a Veneto!        
     Gamberi a Veneto Recipe:
     This traditional recipe cooks quickly!  Have all the ingredients ready.  If you serve the scampi a Veneto with a twist of fettucini, then be sure to have the pasta pre-cooked and ready to be reheated in hot water.
     Peel and devein 5 medium large size shrimp and leave the tails attached.
     Lightly dredge the shrimp in flour.
     Heat a saute pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add 3 finely 3 chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 1 teaspoon of finely chopped shallot.
     Jus before the garlic turns a golden color, add the flour dredged shrimp.
     Saute the shrimp, till they are halfway cooked.
     Add 1 generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 3 lemon slices.
     Saute and shake the pan, till a light emulsion sauce is formed by the flour on the shrimp and the liquid in the pan.
     Add 3 pinches of finely chopped Italian parsley.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Place the sauteed lemon slices on a plate.
     Place a twist of warm al dente cooked fettucini pasta on the plate.
     Add 1 pat of unsalted butter to the hot shrimp and sauce in the hot pan, while stirring, to form a thin butter sauce.
     Set the shrimp on the plate.
     Spoon the sauce over the shrimp and pasta.
     Garnish the plate with Italian Parsley sprigs.
     So few ingredients and yet such a great flavor!  Fresh lemon is the key flavor of the Venetian style butter sauce.  The garlic and shallot gives this recipe its bold flavor.  Never cook the garlic till it is dark in this recipe or the sauce will taste bitter!
     The butter sauce is quickly made.  Too much time on the heat will cause the rich butter finished sauce to break and separate.
     Placing sliced lemon in the saute pan does add a bolder lemon flavor and the lemon slices add to the eye appeal of the plate.  That is an old Italian technique!
     You can serve Scampi a Veneto with rice, but a twist of pasta adds a nice Italian touch.  Yummy!  Ciao Baby!  ...  Shawna

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