Chances are you love shrimp. If so, then you almost certainly love “shrimp scampi.” The combination of butter, garlic and shrimp is a cosmic culinary fist-bump that pummels your taste buds with shock waves of awesome. It is so fantastic, that its creator decided that using the word “shrimp” just once wasn’t enough, so he (or she) tossed in the Italian variant, “scampi.” I think he (or she!) could have gotten away with “shrimp shrimp.” It’s that good.
But what if I told you there was a way to make shrimp shrimp even better? The Turks know the secret. They’ve known it for centuries. I discovered it when Handan and I spent a few months in her hometown of Izmir back in 2010. We used to have drinks at the outdoor bar of a restaurant on the shores of the Aegean Sea near our house. When we got hungry, we’d order tereyağlı karides. It came in a small cast iron skillet (it is also often served in small earthenware crocks) with fresh-baked bread to mop up all the melted butter. So what is the secret? It’s so simple. First, use more butter. Obviously, anything with more butter is better. A little olive oil added to the butter helps to keep things from getting out of hand. Second, add Turkish crushed red pepper, or pul biber. Though it may look somewhat similar to Italian red pepper flakes, the two are nothing alike. Pul biber is made from the Aleppo pepper, a varietal first cultivated in Aleppo, Syria, near the Turkish border. It is sweeter and milder with an altogether different flavor than Italian crushed red pepper. You’re going to need some for this recipe, and if you don’t live near a specialty Turkish or Persian or Middle Eastern market, you can order pul biber from Amazon.
It also helps to have individual cast iron skillets – one for each person, though this is certainly not a requirement. Lodge makes a great one – I have six of them! Here is the link, in case you are interested.
Okay, let’s get to it. Printer-friendly recipe at the end of the post.
Shrimp, Garlic & Butter – Turkish Style! (Tereyağlı Karides)
Ingredients (listed per person, for each skillet)
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon pul biber (depends on how spicy you like it)
- 1 clove garlic, very thinly sliced
- 10 smallish shrimp, peeled and deveined
- a few pinches of dried or minced fresh parsley
Heat skillet over medium heat. Add butter.
Pour in the olive oil. No one will haul you off to jail if you use a little more than one tablespoon.
When the butter is melted and bubbling, add the pul biber.
Sauté the pul biber for about two minutes. Adjust heat down to medium low if the butter seems like it wants to burn. The reason we sauté the pepper first is to extract some of its red color into the butter.
Add the sliced garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then add the shrimp one-by-one in a single layer. Cook shrimp for about one minute on each side. Season with more pul biber, if desired, and sprinkle a few pinches of parsley over the shrimp.
Serve immediately in the skillet with lots of crusty bread. Afiyet olsun!