Sambuca Flambéed Shrimp

Today’s dish is my own take on an appetizer I was served a while ago in Yellowknife called ‘Flambé Sambuca Shrimp’. Now, I rather ‘panned’ that dish for what I felt was a rather poor execution but, after giving the basic idea a try, I rather owe the cook in question a (partial) apology. One of my criticisms was that the typical anise flavour of Sambuca was entirely absent, leading me to think that they had unfairly skimped on this part of the production. However, in my own attempt, I used quite a bit of the liqueur myself and experienced the very same result. Possibly, it is the flaming of the liquid that causes this? In any event, despite that particular ‘flaw’, I think my effort was the better of the two…

Now, before I begin, I have to apologize by saying that this is another one of those, mercifully few, occasions where I lost my notes between the time of cooking and the time of writing. Still, the procedure wasn’t all that complex and I think you can follow along even without precise measurements of all the ingredients.


Unlike the meagre variety I was served in Yellowknife, I am using some really decent sized shrimp. The scale doesn’t come through well in the above picture but the wee fellows you see here are not a whole lot less than a quarter pound each. Here, I have peeled off all but the tail section of the shells and sprinkled the flesh with just a pinch of salt and some white pepper.


I made my finishing sauce by melting some butter with a little garlic salt and lemon juice. I am using scallions during the last minutes of cooking the shrimp but I added a few sections into the butter when I melted it.


I like the idea of using grilled shrimp rather just sautéing them as the flovor is lovely cooked this way and the grill marks make the dish more attractive. They only need a few seconds on each side to produce the effect as they will finish cooking in the pan.


I added just a little splash of the butter to the pan and then followed with the shrimp. Then, just as things were sizzling, I added a good shot or so of Sambuca and set  it all alight.


Once the flames had died, I poured in the remaining butter and some scallion greens, cooked it all for a minute or two to finish the shrimp and then served immediately. Even without the anise flavor of the liqueur, these were delicious.


  1. Hi John,
    Pernot is a much better (traditional:-) ) liqueur for flambeing. I use it for scallops, shrimp, and snails 🙂
    Cheers I

    1. Yes ,,, I much prefer Pernod for drinking as well. I haven’t seen any in ages. We are getting a Beer and Wine store here soon, but I’ll still have to look to the south for ‘exotic’ spirits and liqueurs.

  2. This is a keeper…I was surprised that you didn’t add a dash of sambuca at the very end…w/b too sweet?

    1. It might have been, but, in any event, I only had a tiny airplane size bottle… I used it all.

Leave a Reply