Food & Drink

Coast Cooking: Shrimp boat spaghetti is an American-Italian Coast favorite


Special to the Sun Herald

Shrimp boat spaghetti.
Shrimp boat spaghetti.

Pasta and shrimp may seem like a natural to the American palate, but it is not an Italian favorite.

I defer to Marcella Hazan when it comes to Italian cooking, and she refers only to one shrimp and pasta recipe in her famous cookbook “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.”

Pink shrimp sauce with cream is a simple recipe of cream, just a touch of tomato sauce, garlic and pasta.

Shrimp scampi is another Italian-style dish that is an American invention. Shrimp and scampi are not even the same creature, related, but different.

But let' s not dwell on what is or isn't authentic Italian. If you are from the Coast, you will be familiar with Shrimp Boat Spaghetti.

It is a simple recipe a poor fisherman would have been comfortable with, and it is hearty enough to feed your crew well. I would guess there was an Italian American involved in creating this dish, but who knows?


At its best, it is a handful of chopped, ripe tomatoes, a pound of good-sized shrimp, red pepper flakes, a small chopped onion and a little garlic. Sauté the garlic in olive oil, just to flavor the oil, remove and discard the garlic. Quickly fry the shrimp in hot oil, no more than 2 minutes, if you have not overcrowded the pan. Cook the chopped onion until tender, add the tomatoes, season aggressively and simmer until it tastes just the way it should. Add a big swig of that red wine you always have in the pantry if you like. This is not a long-cooking dish. Make the pasta, add the shrimp to the sauce, add the pasta and toss.