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I love shrimp! And there are some shrimp dishes I love more than others and this is one of them. If you're looking for a tasty, spicy seafood dish, Shrimp Fra Diavolo is your dish! Named for the devil, it should be rather spicy, but of course, you can adjust the spice to your liking. It can easily be adapted as an appetizer or eaten as a full dinner.
History of Shrimp Fra Diavolo
It is unclear what the origin of Shrimp Fra Diavolo actually is. It is supposed that no genuine Italian has ever eaten such a dish, but in many American Italian restaurants, you will certainly find it on the menu.
I often reference Marcella Hazan when I need to have some clarity about Italian dishes. Marcella was Italian who was credited with bringing Italian cooking to an English audience. She wrote cookbooks and was a teacher. I was really pleased to find that her husband, Victor Hazan, remembered first eating fra diavolo at the Grotta Azzurra restaurant in Little Italy, NYC, in 1940. Marcella responded with, "You brought me to that restaurant. I remember the dish clearly because it was so heavy and typical of Italian cooking in America. We don’t eat like that in Italy.” However, in her book, Essentials of Italian Cooking, she has a recipe for Shrimp with Tomatoes and Chili Pepper that is very similar to this dish only it uses a fresh red chili rather than red pepper flakes.
Whether Shrimp Fra Diavolo is genuinely Italian or whether it was created by genuine Italians who emigrated to America, Shrimp Fra Diavolo is definitely a tasty dish worthy of being enjoyed!
How to prepare the shrimp
You can purchase frozen shrimp, of course, but if you can get fresh, wild shrimp, take that option! Pull the tail off, then put your thumb between the legs and pull off the rest of the shell. Use a small paring knife to cut down the back of the shrimp. put the tip of the knife under the vein, and pull it out. This is not the most pleasant part of preparing shrimp, but it is highly necessary!
Put the shelled shrimp in a bowl with salt and red pepper flakes and toss it so that it all of the shrimp is coated. If you like it super spicy, add more red pepper flakes.
Let's cook up some Shrimp Fra Diavolo!
Saute the shrimp only about a minute on each side. It cooks so quickly and if you overcook it, it becomes rubbery. Remember, too, that you'll be putting it back into the hot tomato sauce in a bit so it will cook even more.
Remove the shrimp to a platter, then add the chopped onions to the skillet. Cook them till they are translucent 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, letting it cook for about 30 seconds before adding the white wine to deglaze the pan.
Add the tomatoes and oregano and bring to a simmer.
Finally, add the shrimp to the tomato mixture, allow to warm through, and serve immediately.
How to serve Shrimp Fra Diavolo
We love Shrimp Fra Diavolo with fettucine! But we also like it on the lighter side with some Sauteed Garlic Green Beans. It makes a good appetizer as well! Marcella Hazan suggests eating it just with thick crunchy bread to soak up the sauce. However you choose to eat it, be sure to have plenty of chopped fresh parsley and basil to sprinkle on top.
Other recipes you might like:
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
- 3 Tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion (about ¾ cup) chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes (or a 14.5 ounce can)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- 3 Tablespoons fresh basil chopped
- 3 Tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the salt and red pepper flakes.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. Saute the shrimp for about a minute on each side and remove to a platter.
- Add the onions to the same skillet, adding more oil if needed. Saute the onions till they become translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and let it become fragrant. Deglaze the skillet with the white wine, reducing it slightly. Add the tomatoes and oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
- Return the shrimp to the skillet, stirring to coat the shrimp. Cook for about a minute, then stir in the parsley and basil. Season with more salt if needed.
- Serve immediately with fettucine or sauteed green beans.