I think this recipe is the most convenient house party/gathering dish. It is very simple to cook, and it is not time consuming to prepare. I had the opportunity to cook this dish with my mum when we had a gathering for one of my dad’s friends birthday celebration. I think most restaurant menus of Aglio Olio do not include any seafood or meat, which is rather bland in my opinion. I find the texture of well-cooked shrimp goes well with this pasta recipe. Having grown up in a region where there was unlimited access to fresh seafood, I’ve always preferred to buy fresh seafood. I know most North Americans find it messy and cumbersome to eat cooked shelled shrimps but it is the norm in Asia, and for most Asians to eat it that way. The best part is slurping the tasty sauce/gravy on the shells and biting into that springy shrimp meat as the shells are being removed using the fingers. Oh so finger-lickin’ good, haha! Asian-style! Additionally, I find it unappealing to cook frozen or previously frozen de-shelled shrimp. They always shrink to the size of my baby finger, and it’s such a waste! For some reason, keeping the shells intact preserves it’s shape and texture much better. While it is healthier to eat de-veined shrimp, which means it has to be de-shelled, I always prefer it in its original form. My husband tends to disagree, reinforcing the fact that it is too much work to do at a dinner table, but I do it anyway to annoy him. Still, he loves to eat it. Such a complicated love-hate relationship with the shrimp, haha!
This recipe is also versatile enough for vegetarians as I think this would go well with button or portobello mushrooms. After all, this recipe is good enough with the best grade of olive oil. Or perhaps, it might do well with some grilled chicken. Even with the shrimps, there’s a variety of things you can do with it, such as marinade the shrimp with lemon and dried thyme or grill it. As I thought through this recipe, I figured adding sun-dried tomatoes would be perfect to complement its earthy taste. I wanted to add black olives, but my husband hates olives, and so I had to sacrifice that piece out. Dang, he hates mushrooms too! He is such a picky eater, geez! Perhaps, next time I’ll try out the vegetarian version of this dish and eat it just for myself!
Ingredients (For 2 Servings):
2-3 Tbsp of sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil – the better the grade, the better the taste! (used for main sauce)
1 can or small jar of anchovy fillets (the more you use, the more earthy the taste would be)
4-5 garlic cloves (minced)
1/4 cup Parsley (minced)
Crushed red pepper flakes to your liking of spice (or you can use Korean Red Chilli Pepper flakes too)
Cayenne pepper to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Spaghetti for two servings
1. Cook spaghetti according to package instructions, enough for two servings. Drain, and set aside. Add a little cooking/olive oil and toss to prevent the spaghetti from sticking to each other.
2. Heat a large wok with some cooking/olive oil on medium high heat. Stir-fry shrimp until cooked thoroughly (until it is red). Set aside, and keep warm on a plate.
3. Return to wok, reduce heat to medium low and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Add in the anchovies, garlic and red pepper flakes. Break up the anchovies with a wooden spoon until they melt away in the oil.
4. Then, add in the parsley and stir well. Add in the cooked spaghetti and toss well. At this point, you can add in the cooked shrimp and sun-dried tomatoes. Toss and mix well. Add salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper to taste.
5. Serve, and garnish with a couple of parsley stalks. Voila! Dinner is served!
What’s in your cookbook? Do you have a variation of the recipe to share? I’d love to hear it! 🙂