Head-On Shrimp with Chile Oil and Scallions

Head-On Shrimp with Chile Oil and Scallions
At Hart's in Brooklyn, the chefs use urfa biber and aleppo chile peppers to lend a smoky-spicy flavor to succulent shrimp.Jenny Huang

“Head-on shrimp are fun and festive because you’re encouraged to eat them with your hands,” says Katie Jackson from Hart’s in Brooklyn. “Getting really awesome product makes all the difference,” she adds. Since the heads can be the first thing that go bad off the shrimp boats, look for shrimp that are frozen on the boat so they are preserved at their freshest and tastiest. At Hart’s, theirs come from Louisiana.

“Different people have different opinions about how much of the shell-on shrimp you should be eating,” says her chef partner Nick Perkins. “You can eat the heads, legs, and even the shells—it’s up to you.”

What You Will Need

Head-On Shrimp with Chile Oil and Scallions
A festive, communal dish, these spicy whole shrimp doused in spicy chile oil can be eaten with your hands—shell and all
Yield: serves 4
Time: 45 minutes

For the chile oil:

  • 12 cup canola oil or another neutral salad oil
  • 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. aleppo chile pepper
  • 1 tbsp. urfa biber chile
  • 2 wide strips of lemon zest
  • 1 bay leaf

For the shrimp:

  • 10-15 large head-on shrimp or prawns
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried aleppo chile pepper or another sweet ground chile, plus more if desired
  • 12 lemon, for squeezing

Instructions

  1. Make the chile oil: In a small pan, add the canola and olive oils, aleppo and urfa biber chile, lemon zest, and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer and let cook for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep until cooled. Once cool, blend in a high-powered blender until the chile bits are ground up finely. (Chile oil can be made up to about 4 weeks ahead of time. Seal in an airtight container.)
  2. Prepare the shrimp: Toss the shrimp with enough olive oil to coat, and lightly season with salt. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prepared shrimp and cook, turning as needed, until the shells are well seared, the bodies have curved and the flesh is almost but not fully cooked through, 4–6 minutes. Transfer to a plate and reserve. While the pan is still hot, add an additional tablespoon of olive oil, the garlic, and the scallions and let cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Quickly add the white wine, paprika, and chile and cook until the wine is largely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and let cook for a few minutes so the flavors can marry. (If the liquid fully dries out, add a splash of water to the pan to retain some sauciness.)
  3. Transfer the shrimp, onions, garlic, and juices from the pan to a serving plate, and arrange the shrimp in a pleasing manner. Spoon generously with chile oil (or to taste), sprinkle with any additional chile as desired, and serve with lemon for squeezing.