This is a really easy quick dish that tastes delicious and—okay, okay—works even if you insist on peeling off the shells after cooking. But I hope you will trust me and give the whole shrimp a try. Frying the shrimp in hot olive oil quickly crisps the shells up and seals in the juices, and throwing the salt on hot shells just as they come out of the hot oil really bonds the salt on to the shell, granting plenty of flavor. I like to squeeze a little lemon over everything for the acidity, and also because it softens both the flavor and the texture of the shells. —Sara Jenkins
Test Kitchen Notes
This is one of the best ways to experiment with shell-on shrimp. With just a few ingredients, you'll be amazed by how much flavor you're able to get out of the shrimp. It's a one-pot wonder and it all comes together very quickly. You'll love it for an easy weeknight dinner, appetizer, or side. Serve over pasta or rice for a heartier meal. And yes, you can eat the shells. Though you may face some skeptics, that delicious, satisfying crunch will hopefully win everyone over after the first bite.
All you have to do is cook the shrimp in a heavy pan until crispy and pink. Add finely chopped garlic, finely chopped rosemary, and a dried chile. That's basically it! Serve with lemon wedges alongside for squeezing over and a final touch of acidity. If you have head-on shrimp, you can pull off the heads and then suck out the insides, or you could eat the shrimp heads as well. Doesn't get much more straightforward or easier than that. Of course, as the developer mentions, you can peel off the shells before serving, but if you find yourself making this recipe over and over again (which we believe you'll end up doing, as it's one of our favorite ways to use head-on shrimp), give it a try with the shells. And feel free to mix in whatever you need to use up. Try with red pepper flakes instead of the chile, or any kind of fresh herbs that you have on hand. —The Editors
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds
whole, shell-on shrimp (if you can find them with the heads on, even better)
dried chile, such as chile de árbol
rosemary, finely chopped
garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
lemons, cut into quarters
Flaky sea salt
- Heat the oil in a heavy pan (a cast-iron pan is great for this), large enough for the shrimp to fit in one layer. When the oil is hot, start adding the shrimp to the pan—just a few at a time so as to not chill the oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the shrimp turn pink and the shells start to crisp up. Flip the shrimp and continue to cook on the other side.
- Add the chile, rosemary, and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, for 2 to 3 more minutes, until heated through.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp with as much of the garlic and rosemary as you can get. Season immediately with salt so that it sticks to the shells.
- Serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the shrimp. Eat everything: The shells will be crispy and flavorful.