The most important etiquette rules on how to serve and eat scampi with grace. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest at the dining table.
What scampi etiquette is
Scampi etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat scampi. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.
If you are hosting, follow scampi etiquette to serve them to your guests appropriately.
If you are a guest, respect scampi etiquette rules to properly eat and enjoy them.
What you should know about scampi
Scampi are a crustacean. They are a type of small lobster. Scampi may look like prawns, but are usually larger and with longer claws. Other names for Scampi are Langoustine, Langostino, or Norway Lobster. Their meat is similar to lobster. It has a sweet and delicate flavor.
Etiquette rules to serve and eat scampi
1) How to store scampi
It is best to eat scampi right away. Avoid storing them. Do not leave scampi at room temperature for over 2 hours.
You can store fresh or cooked scampi in your fridge for 1 or 2 days. Place them under a damp cloth.
Alternatively, you can store fresh or cooked scampi in the freezer. They can last for up to 3-6 months.
If you store scampi in the fridge or freezer, do not remove the shell before storing them. Place them on a single layer, do not stack them.
2) How to clean scampi
You should kill scampi before you wash them. Do not wash the scampi in freshwater. It may kill them but also cause distress to the animal. So, it qualifies as animal cruelty.
If you do not serve scampi whole, remove their inedible parts. Remove their head, legs, and shell. You can either leave or remove the fins of the tail. You should remove the intestinal tract, which is the dark vein that runs along the scampi tail.
3) How to cook scampi
Check the scampi to make sure they are fresh. The eyes should be bright. There is little smell. The color is bright orange.
There are several ways to cook scampi. Boil, fry, sauté, bake, or grill.
Cook scampi thoroughly to avoid food poisoning.
Scampi are among the most common food allergens. They are not kosher, thus they are one of the Jewish dietary restrictions. Before you include scampi in your menu, ask your guests if they have any restrictions.
4) How to serve & present scampi
Serve scampi cleaned or intact. Cleaned scampi should be without a head, legs, shell, and intestinal tract. They can be with or without the final part of their tail.
If you serve scampi intact, you should provide your guests with an additional small plate to discard the head, legs, shell, and tail. Provide a small bowl of water and lemon to wash the fingers.
5) Foods and beverages to pair scampi with
Scampi are valuable for their delicate flavor. Avoid any pairing with flavors that may overshadow it.
Scampi go well with spinach, potatoes, or steamed vegetables such as asparagus and broccoli. They are perfect for pasta.
Avoid pairing scampi with other fish or seafood. Avoid cheese or dairy products. Never pair scampi with meat. It is considered distasteful.
6) How to eat scampi
Eating scampi with your hands
If scampi are served intact, you can eat them with your hands.
First, remove the head and the tail with a sharp pull. Remove the shell by starting from the belly, where the legs meet the body. Press your thumb right above the legs to crack the shell. Remove the legs. Then peel the shell off. If you need to loosen up the shell, gently bend the scampi against its curve.
Some people prefer to remove the black vein from the back of the scampi too. The vein is the intestinal tract and it is edible. Removing it can get messy and close to precision surgery. So, if the thin black thread does not bother you, you can leave it and eat it.
If scampi are served headless but with their tail, use the tail to handle the scampi and bring it to your mouth. Then discard the tail.
Eating scampi with your fork and knife
On formal occasions, or if scampi are in a saucy or oily course, you should eat them with a fork and knife.
Hold the body with the fork and remove the head and the tail with a sharp cut of your knife. Hold the body with the knife, and gently stick the tips of your fork right above where the legs meet the body to hold the scampi. Gently stick the tip of your knife in the opening of the shell where the tail was. Remove the shell by gently working your way with the knife up.
Place the heads, legs, shells, and tails in a spare plate or bowl. If the spare plate or bowl is not available, place them orderly on a side of your plate. Clean your fingers in a fingerbowl, which is usually available, with water and drops of lemon juice.
On formal occasions, do not suck the juice from the heads. In informal venues, this may be allowed.
Scampi etiquette: the worst mistakes
The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors.
A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. More about the Rude Index and its methodology here.
Avoid the worst scampi etiquette mistakes.
- 9/10. Serving spoiled scampi.
- 7/10. Pairing scampi with strong flavors
- 6/10. Pairing scampi with red wine.
- 6/10. Making a mess eating scampi.
- 5/10. Sucking the juice from the heads.
Additional information for properly serving scampi
How many calories per serving?
Counting calories is important to stay healthy and to correctly plan a menu.
Scampi contain around 119 calories per 100 grams. The calories per serving vary based on the dimension of the scampi.
How to buy the best scampi
A crucial factor in scampi etiquette is to serve the best product possible to your guests.
Season and availability
The season for scampi depends on the variety of scampi, the habitat, and the region.
Choose the best
Fresh scampi are firm and have a delicate smell. Avoid scampi that look musky, have dark spots or smell bad.
Alternatives to scampi
The best substitutes for scampi have comparable texture and delicate flavor. The best options are lobster or crayfish.
Which part of the scampi is edible? Eat the meat in the tail. Discard the head, legs, shell, and tail. The claws are often too small to extract the meat. The black vein is edible but often discarded.
What part of the scampi can’t you eat? You should not eat the head, legs, shell, and tail of scampi.
Can you eat scampi (langoustines) raw? You can eat scampi raw but it is not recommended. Scampi have a high risk of bacterial growth.
Do you eat scampi head? No. It is best to discard the scampi head.
What is the dark green vein in scampi (langoustines)? It is the intestinal tract of the scampi. It is perfectly edible.
What is the difference between shrimp and prawns and scampi? Shrimp and prawns are similar. They are two different suborders of decapod crustaceans. In general, in restaurant menus, “shrimp” refers to smaller crustaceans, “prawn” to larger ones. Instead, scampi are small lobsters. Their meat tastes similar to lobster.
What is the difference between langoustine and scampi? Langoustine and scampi are the same.
Do scampi (langoustines) taste like lobster? Yes, their meat tastes similar to lobster. However, the texture of the meat is more similar to shrimp or prawns.
What is the difference between a lobster and scampi (langoustines)? Lobster and scampi are similar. Scampi are smaller. The flavor of the meat is similar. However, the texture is different.