My family and I are probably a few years into our attempt at eating a cleaner diet, hoping to have both a positive impact on our health, as well as the overall food production environment. And to further both ends, I believe it is important to consume the highest quality proteins whenever possible.
When it comes to seafood, that often (but not always) means wild sourced and not farmed. Of course, price has a lot to do with what I buy any given day at the grocery, but when I can find wild caught shrimp on sale, then my mind starts thinking that it’s time for me to fire up my butter garlic shrimp recipe!
As with many of my recipes, this butter garlic shrimp recipe has one main ingredient, which I want to source properly, which is sometimes harder to do that it should be, and then quite a few other lesser used ingredients, which are both easier to find and maybe less important that they be of the utmost highest quality.
Let’s start with the easy ingredients here, butter first! Grassfed butter all the way. Ok, I understand the butter itself is not fed grass, but butter made from grass eating cows is so much better for you than from grain fed cows, and it isn’t even close! Use real yellow butter, not the pale white butter so easily found in the grocery store, and definitely stay away from fake butters and margarines! Plus, if you want your sauce from this dish to be rich and luxurious, you owe it to yourself, and your body, to use the best butter you can find!
Lemons and garlic, I use organic if possible, just ’cause. But when I can’t find them, I don’t sweat it too much as I haven’t ever seen those items on the EWG’s list of the dirtiest produce. When using salt in a recipe, I always try to include a sea salt, to avoid the act of processing food as much as possible and also to hopefully get a few extra minerals into my diet. Do I really think that a half teaspoon of white kosher salt here or there is going to have a big impact on my health? No, I don’t, but I still have my preferences. Same with black pepper and cayenne pepper, I buy organic spices fairly frequently, but don’t stress out when I don’t have them on hand.
Chicken stock is actually pretty important in our house, so maybe I should’ve mentioned it earlier. But whenever possible I wait to make a recipe that calls for chicken stock until I have made a batch recently, so that I have homemade bone broth and not store bought.
The main reason I prefer to wait until I have my own broth on hand is that I prefer to know what is in my food, plus the fact that I’m doubtful that any boxed or packaged stock or broth has as many health benefits as the homemade chicken stock made in my own kitchen.
Having said that, having a quality boxed chicken stock on hand is pretty convenient for those times when you don’t have any homemade stock in the fridge. So when it’s time for me to use a store bought substitute, my favorite brand is Kettle and Fire Bone Broth, hands down. It doesn’t congeal as well as my homemade stock, but it’s far and away better than the other store bought options I’ve tried over the years.
And that leaves us with shrimp, which is a bit of a more complicated subject than I would have ever thought before reading up on them. Farmed or wild? Imported or domestic? Raw or cooked?
It appears there are many different variables at work here. Wild caught shrimp from some parts of the world are probably not great for us, due to lax enforcements of heath regulations, or maybe the absence of regulations to start with. And some farming operations are not great either, because they wipe out native habitats to work large scale shrimp farms, and that can have a pretty nasty impact both on the local environment and what toxins and chemicals might be contained in the shrimp as a product of the farming practices.
So what decisions have I made in regards to shrimp? I’m ok both with farmed shrimp from the US, hoping that our regulations here are better and tighter than those abroad. And I also like wild caught shrimp from the West Coast of the US and Canada. But I have to admit that sometimes my brain is simply too small and I get confused by the options in the store, so I buy whatever looks good to me, and cross my fingers!
One last cooking tip, or concern, depending upon how you look at it. My favorite way to prepare this dish is with a little flour, to thicken up the sauce. And when I say a little, I mean it, one whole tablespoon. But I know some people out there are avoiding flour altogether, and I’m not here to tell you that you’re wrong, but in our house, we aim for moderation and not elimination for most items. So I’m going to stick with the flour, but recognize some people will drop it altogether, or perhaps use a substitute, such as arrowroot.
2 lbs shrimp
1 stick butter
juice from 1 lemon
1 cup chicken stock (or fish stock)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
5-10 cloves pressed garlic, or more, personal preference
- If using frozen shrimp, your first step is to thaw them, then clean, peel and de-vein them
- Prepare all of your ingredients and have them ready to go
- Heat your pan (I used an enamel cast iron pan) over medium to medium high heat
- Add three tablespoons of butter to the pan (ghee or coconut oil would work as well), and let melt
- Add your shrimp and cook until almost done, only a few minutes, depends upon the size of your shrimp
- Remove the shrimp, leaving all liquids behind in the pan
- Add three remaining tablespoons of butter and let melt
- Add one tablespoon of flour and whisk into butter to make base for sauce
- Add chicken stock, continuing to whisk
- Bring sauce to simmer or boil and add the lemon juice, spices and garlic, and stir to combine
- Reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for a few minutes
- Add shrimp back to pan, and gently stir until your butter garlic shrimp are fully cooked and coated with sauce, then serve