Shrimp Fra Diavolo

December 5, 2010 § 2 Comments

Hey you. Yeah you. I want to tell you about our new favorite pasta dish, Shrimp Fra Diavolo. (cheers, clapping, standing ovation!) Yes, my cyber friends, this dish deserves a standing ovation in my book. But when it’s the Rao-Pellegrino family’s recipe (of the famous Rao’s Restaurant), how could it be anything else but, right? So for the rest of this post, I want you to read it using your best “Good Guys” accent. Or for the girls, using your best Nadia G accent, eh! (Nadia, you are bitchin’!)

For most people, getting a table at the original Rao’s in NY is as likely as “getting made”. I think we’d have better odds at winning the lottery. So it’s either going to Rao’s in Las Vegas or ordering from Rao’s online, right? Fa-get about it because you can have Rao’s famous Shrimp Fra Diavolo right in your own kitchen! Actually, you can get all the recipes from Rao’s cookbooks (Rao’s Cookbook and Rao’s Recipes).

Fra diavolo means “Brother Devil” in Italian. I believe it was Mario Batalli who said fra diavolo is actually an American-Italian dish. Sometimes fra diavolo has been referred to as arrabbiata sauce (meaning angry sauce) but there is a difference between the two. Arrabbiatta sauce is tomatoes, garlic and red chili cooked in olive oil. Fra diavolo is a spicy sauce for pasta or seafood, which could be tomato-based or not. So I guess you can say that arrabbiatta sauce is a type of fra diavolo, you get my meaning?

I modified a couple of things from the original recipe (hope I don’t get no dead fish in a box) but I think Frank Pellegrino would forgive me since it’s still made with love. The original recipe calls for dredging the shrimp before cooking. Personally, I prefer it non-dredged. Your choice. I also made a modification to the garlic, which I would recommend to garlic lovers. And what Italian dish loving person don’t love garlic? Here’s my version of Rao’s Shrimp Fra Diavolo served with linguine (optional).

Note: Maybe some of you eagle eyes noticed that there is calamari in the photo. You be right. I would have added clams and mussels too if my local Henry’s would have had them like their ad said they would. Maybe the delivery guy was swimming with the fishes, OH! (oh you know I had to add that saying in somewhere). If you like calamari in your dish too, slice cleaned calamari (about 2 medium sized per person) into 1/2 inch rings and add them at the very end with the cooked pasta and shrimp. Calamari only needs a few minutes to cook or else you risk serving tough squid. Serving tough squid could make you find yourself next to the Henry’s delivery guy comparing who’s got the bigger concrete shoes. Just tell him it was custom made just for you.

If you want to add clams or mussels, reserve the olive oil from the cooked shrimp and use that to cook the clams and mussels until they open. Set those aside with the shrimp and then add it back in along with the cooked shrimp and pasta at the end, making sure everything is heated through. Make sure your saute pan is large enough to hold everything. You may also want to cut back the amount of shrimp to 1 pound, depending on how much clams and mussels you use.

Adapted from Rao’s Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Serves 4


  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and de-veined, butterflied, tails removed (patted dry if dredging)
  • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour (if dredging)
  • 1/2 cup fine-quality olive oil
  • 6 small garlic cloves, peeled and cut into chunks, divided
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Dried red-pepper flakes to taste (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (28-oz can) canned imported San Marzano Italian plum tomatoes, hand-crushed
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 1 lb. linguine (optional)


If serving with linguine, bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the boiling water and cook pasta until just al dente. The pasta will be finished off in the sauce. Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking.

(If dredging, dredge shrimp in flour, making sure all sides are well coated. Pat to remove excess flour.)

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When oil is very hot, but not smoking, add shrimp and 1/2 of the garlic, saute for 2 minutes. (Do not crowd pan; prepare shrimp in batches, if necessary.) Remove shrimp and set aside. Drain off all excess oil and discard garlic.

While pan is off heat, pour in wine. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add oregano, pepper flakes, remaining 1/2 of garlic, salt and ground black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. I left in the garlic so it can cook in the wine bath. It takes the pungency out of the garlic, gets all soft and very very tasty.

Stir in tomatoes and cook for 15 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in basil and shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. If adding calamari, clams, mussels and/or linguine, do it now. Serve it up with a few more sprinkling of torn fresh basil on top.

Buon appetito!


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