Shrimp are like the character actors of the seafood sphere – totally versatile. Whether sautéed, spiced or weaved into a bed of al dente pasta, these protein-rich decapod crustaceans make most dishes pop. Here are five local interpretations:
The Screaming Camarones at the Hub Baja Grill on Siesta Key are fried, lightly battered Gulf shrimp bites drizzled with nutty Hoisin and spicy Sriracha sauces. After a bowlful of lobster bisque and some jumbo lump crab rolls, munch on these flavorful sea-dwellers while grooving to live melodies. 5148 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota. 349-6800; thehubsiestakey.com.
South on Tamiami Trail is Shucks Seafood Grille, where four jumbo coconut shrimp are pan-seared with horseradish cream sauce and served with a Thai chili sauce or tropical marmalade. Have coconut shrimp without the fancy fixings, too, or some simply fried Gulf beauties with scallops, clam strips and oysters. 7253 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. 922-6478; shucksseafoodgrille.com.
At Pinchers Crab Shack in Sarasota’s Palmer Ranch, the shrimp scampi pasta with sautéed Gulf shrimp in a garlic, butter and wine sauce sizzles. Customize the hearty entrée with angel hair or bowtie pasta, and some Parmesan topping and garlic bread. Living lighter? Skip the noodles and scarf the boom boom shrimp instead. 10707 Rodeo Drive, Lakewood Ranch. 922-1515; pincherscrabshack.com.
Down in Venice, the steam pot at the Myakka River Oyster Bar may have a pricy tag but its combination of shrimp, snow crabs and mussels warrants the $27.99. Budgeting diners, you can still have your shrimp in peel-and-eat style, lightly fried, or on a bed of fettuccini with broccoli, and then sweeten the pot with key lime pie. 121 Playmore Drive, Venice. 423-9616; myakkariveroysterbar.com.
Bella Mia Grill’s Riviera Dunes Marina Seafood Trio features a skewer of grilled jumbo Gulf shrimp, pan-seared tuna and scallops in a garlic bourbon sauce. The champagne seafood pasta with jumbo shrimp, scallops, lump blue crabmeat, fire-roasted red peppers and baby spinach will top you off when the skewers leave you craving extra. 102 Riviera Dunes Way, Palmetto. 479-7827; bellamiagrill.com.