Quick and Easy, but Packs an Explosion of Flavor.
I got to thinking about shrimp fra diavolo. When it’s good, it’s really good, but I’ve had more than my share of mediocre renditions. So, I set about making a shrimp dish with that recipe in mind, but ended up going off on a completely different tangent.
Starting with the shrimp itself, I kept that part very simple. I tossed them with only some salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper, briefly cooked them on only one side (this prevents them from over cooking) in 2 batches in a hot skillet, and set them aside.
Now for my sauce. I browned some tomato paste in a healthy dose of olive oil, added plenty of chopped garlic, more hot pepper flakes, a small can of tomatoes, and the juice of an orange. I love adding fresh orange juice to tomato sauces. It brings out the very best in the flavor of the tomatoes. This only needed to simmer for a few minutes in order for it to achieve a good saucy consistency.
In an earlier post, I provided a recipe for Salty Orange Cream and knew it would be great in this sauce. It’s intensely flavored, so I only added 1 tablespoon to the sauce. I then whisked in 2 tablespoons of cold salted butter – just until it had emulsified into the sauce. I now had a fully flavored sauce with a beautifully lush mouthfeel.
After adding the shrimp to the sauce and only cooking it for a couple of minutes in order to finish cooking the shrimp, I tossed in some torn up basil leaves and fresh orange zest. It only needed a drizzle of good olive oil to finish it off. You could serve it just like this with plenty of crusty bread for scooping up the sauce, but I opted for serving it over a pound of bucatini.
As I mentioned, I fully realize this no longer resembles shrimp fra diavolo. I ended up going in a very different direction. This is how it often goes with my cooking. I’ll start out with a particular flavor profile in mind, then it morphs into something else as I work on it. This one still has a whiff of fra diavolo about it. But it’s different. In a very good way.