Seafood Pasta alla Buzara

Friday, January 15, 2010


The other day I was shopping at my neighborhood supermarket, looking for a little dinner inspiration.  I meandered past the seafood department without a thought.  Usually, I don’t even bother to look in that direction.  I live in Florida, less than a mile from the Gulf of Mexico.  The last thing I am interested in is defrosted frozen shrimp from Indonesia, artificially colored, farm-raised salmon, or some ubiquitous white fish filets from South America.  Sadly, those are nearly always the only kinds of seafood my local supermarkets carry.  So, I pass on them and buy my fish at one of the few and far flung fish markets in the area, which are not great, but at least do offer some local selections.   But, this time something in the display case caught my eye.  It was fresh rock shrimp.  Rock shrimp?  Wow! I hadn’t seen fresh rock shrimp anywhere around here in a very long time.

Rock shrimp (Sicyonia brevirostris) are deep-water cousins of the more commonly known pink, brown and white shrimps.  They have a hard, spiny shell more like a lobster rather than a traditional shrimp.  Their shells are “hard as a rocks”,  hence the name rock shrimp. They have a fresh, clean, sweet taste, very much like lobster.  Rock shrimp live and spawn in warm deep waters between 120 to 240 feet and are mostly harvested off of the east coast of Florida. 

When I was growing up, rock shrimp were plentiful all over Central and South Florida.  You could regularly find them in area fish markets and on the menus of many local restaurants.  Sadly, that has changed.  Many of the local shrimpers have been crowded out of the ports, at least in part, because they can no longer afford to pay the exorbitant prices for berthing space that have been driven up by the cruise ship industry and waterfront condo developers.  Now, there are only a handful of shrimp boats left in what was once a thriving shrimp fleet on the east coast of Florida.  As landings for rock shrimp from Florida shrimpers have decreased, the harvest has decreased as well. This has forced the shrimpers to focus on selling their product in larger markets outside of Florida where they can get higher prices.   Sigh….. Unfortunately, this is not only the case with rock shrimp.  It also applies to a large degree to other kinds of native Florida fish, beef and produce.  (You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find a decent orange here in the “Sunshine State”!  All the best “Florida” citrus is shipped out to the rest of the country.  Most of our oranges come from California!)

So, now you can understand why I got a little excited to see rock shrimp at the market.

I bought a few pounds and took them home to keep company with some plump bay scallops that I had picked up somewhere else.  After playing around with some different ideas, I decided to turn my seafood bounty into a pasta dish based on one of Lidia Bastianich’s recipes from Lidia’s Italy.  The original dish is called Shrimp Buzara. The sauce is a variation on a traditional scampi sauce which is made with butter, wine and garlic.  This one has olive oil in it instead of butter, and also a little tomato paste.  I adapted the recipe, using my rock shrimp and scallops, to make a tasty sauce to serve over pasta.

Take a look at that beautiful, fresh seafood!


Now, let’s start cooking…..

Buzara collage

Once your Buzara sauce is finished, all you need to do is toss it in with some nice, hot pasta and drizzle a little more olive oil over the top.  I’d never made this particular dish before, and I have to say, it was absolutely delicious.  Both the shallots and the tomato paste added a nice touch of sweetness to the sauce that really complimented the brininess of the seafood.  The tomato paste also gave a little extra body to the sauce, making it seem kind of creamy – except there was no cream in it.  All in all, I would definitely make this one again, with or without the rock shrimp, because let’s face it.  Who knows when, or if, I’ll ever luck upon rock shrimp around here again!


Seafood Pasta alla Buzara
adapted from Lidia’s Italy by Lidia Bastianich

1 pound spaghetti, linguine or other long pasta
1 pound shelled and cleaned rock shrimp*
1 pound bay scallops
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
3 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 cup white wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups of seafood stock or clam broth
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon bread crumbs, or more if needed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley


1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, prepare the seafood and sauce.

2.  Lay rock shrimp and scallops on a baking sheet or tray lined with paper towels.  Blot until dry.  Season with a little salt and pepper.

3.  Heat 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan, and set over medium high heat.  Sear the rock shrimp and scallops in batches until lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes per side. Don’t cook them too long, because they will added back to the pan later.  Remove and set aside

4.  Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan, and set over medium high heat. Scatter in the shallots and garlic and cook until sizzling.  Take care not to burn the garlic.   Stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4  cup of the wine. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the wine is nearly completely evaporated and the shallots have softened. Add the tomato paste and stir it around the pan for a minute, coating the shallots.

5.  Pour in the rest of the wine, stock and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the sauce gently simmer and reduce for about 5 minutes.  With the sauce still bubbling, add the seared seafood back to the pan and mix to coat them all with sauce. Stir in the pepper and the tablespoon of bread crumbs.  If the sauce seems too thin add a little more bread crumbs.  Cook for another 2 minutes, then turn off the heat.

6.  Pour the seafood and sauce over the cooked pasta.  Drizzle in the remaining olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve immediately.

Serves 6.

*If you can’t find fresh rock shrimp, feel free to use large peeled and deveined regular shrimp.


32 responses to Seafood Pasta alla Buzara

  1. On January 15, 2010 at 4:45pm, Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

    When I saw this title I had to come over as I’ve never heard of “buzara” and in fact, it really doesn’t seem so much like an Italian word exactly to my eye/ear…a dialect perhaps, I thought. Anyhoo, I looked it up, and it seems “buzara” is really Croatian that made it’s way over the Adriatic to northern Italy? If you find out anything more about the background, I’d love to hear it! Looks delicious!

    • On January 15, 2010 at 5:31pm, Susan said...

      You’re right, Michelle. Buzara sauce had its origins as a Croatian dish. I read that it usually even has raisins in it. Wherever it comes from, it’s pretty darn tasty! :)

  2. On January 15, 2010 at 4:46pm, Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

    Oh dear, that should be *its* not *it’s.* It’s late here 😉

  3. On January 15, 2010 at 5:09pm, City Girl said...

    Looks lovely!

  4. On January 15, 2010 at 6:49pm, Rosa said...

    Shrimps do look a little sary!

    A gorgeous dish! What a great combo!



  5. On January 15, 2010 at 7:00pm, Joan Nova said...

    Loved your commentaries on the state of fish/produce shopping in our local FL markets, loved the recipe with just a touch of paste and the after plating drizzle of olive oil, and loved the design layout.

    • On January 16, 2010 at 12:59pm, Susan said...

      Thanks, Joan! The fresh food situation in this state is appalling! With all of our natural resources, we should not have to settle for “sloppy seconds” when it comes to our food. Hopefully, consumers will start to demand change with the new focus on eating local.

  6. On January 15, 2010 at 8:37pm, Jalanda said...

    Oh, I would love to smell that cooking! I love all of Lidia’s recipes!

  7. On January 15, 2010 at 10:24pm, ingrid said...

    Yum, this looks terrific! I’m going to print it out to give it a try. Btw, thanks for all the info!

  8. On January 16, 2010 at 12:02am, nina said...

    Oy Susan, we have wonderful fish around here, but man the scallops we can get here are half the size of ones I see in photos here on the blogs and all frozen….
    As for the rock shripm….we call that a prawn and in all forms, flavors and sizes y kids LOVE it. Little Chloe loves Pasta so I am sure she will squeal with delight if I present pasta with prawns…..can’t wait!!!

  9. On January 16, 2010 at 12:24am, Coleen said...

    This looks absolutely delicious!!! I love the direction photo collage. I’ll have to watch for some good seafood to try this. I know what you mean about buying tasteless seafood at the mega-mart.

  10. On January 16, 2010 at 6:55am, bellini valli said...

    I have seen rock shrimp on ocvcasion but it is probably frozen, although we do have several excelelnt fishmongers in town. I will have to watch out for it.

  11. On January 16, 2010 at 1:00pm, Kevin said...

    That seafood pasta looks so nice and juicy and good!

  12. On January 16, 2010 at 2:16pm, sanja said...

    hello from Croatia. it was very exiting to see recipe for traditional Croatian dish on your blog! and my favorite one! well Lidia Bastianich is actually born in Istria in Croatia but went to Italy during II world war. Our traditional recipe is much more simpler then this since it is very old one. Some people believe that name “buzara” comes from the name for the pot which fisherman were using to cook this meal while they were still on theirs boats on the sea… so the meal had to be simple to prepare it in such conditions! The others believe that it is 1000year old meal of the old Greeks and that the name comes from old greek word for “mouth” since it is meal that you it from your hands directly to your mouth… the scampi are cooked with their shells and cleaned while eaten… there are “red” and “white” buzara, depending if you use tomatoes or not…. well now you have inspired me to write a post about this delicious meat… thank you!

    • On January 16, 2010 at 2:29pm, Susan said...

      Thanks so much for giving us a little background on this dish! I had no idea that Lidia was born in Croatia. Her original recipe does use shrimp cooked with their shells. I had to modify it because rock shrimp shells are extremely hard and trying to eat them with the shells on results in lots of cut fingers! 😉

  13. On January 16, 2010 at 3:01pm, sanja said...

    well, I’ll make a photo step by step tutorial “how to eat scampi” cook in their shells :)

  14. On January 16, 2010 at 3:08pm, noble pig said...

    You have made my mouth water. This is a stunning presentation. Beautiful.

  15. On January 16, 2010 at 3:53pm, Karen@Mignardise said...

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m going to make it with the little Maine shrimp that are in season right now and so sweet.

  16. On January 16, 2010 at 4:08pm, mayra said...

    Susan, yesterday I bought a pound of the Rock Shrimp at Publix, I live in Clermont,FL. I had never heard of it before and thought I might give it a try. And what a coincidence I found your blog today and searching in it I found this delicious recipe. I will surerly try my Rock shrimps in with this recipe.

    • On January 16, 2010 at 7:25pm, Susan said...

      Publix is where I found my rock shrimp too. I hope you enjoy the dish. Let me know how it turns out. :)

  17. On January 17, 2010 at 4:36pm, Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home said...

    Rock shrimp is hard to come by – unless you live near a really good seafood market. It looks like little lobsters (without the giant claws!) I love and trust Lidia 100% – your adaptation of her pasta looks so fresh and amazing!

  18. On January 18, 2010 at 10:45am, Eliana said...

    This looks amazing. I absolutely love all the flavors that are dancing around here.

  19. On January 18, 2010 at 11:50am, Carolyn Jung said...

    That is a rarity to see fresh rock shrimp. I’d have gone nuts and bought a ton, too! 😉
    Your pasta looks divine. I wish I could dig a fork into my computer screen to get a taste.

  20. On January 18, 2010 at 1:19pm, Manggy said...

    Naw naw Susan, that rock shrimp is a thing of beauty :) I’m glad something interesting popped up on the aisles! I’ve never heard of Buzara sauce, but I’m glad I learned something new (and delicious!) today!

  21. On January 18, 2010 at 5:07pm, Tali said...

    Hi there! Im from Istria Croatia but live in london and this is always one of the first thing I order when im back there (as seafood in london is a food poisioning risk lol) Great recipe and photos!!
    So excited to see someone recognise Croatian cooking!!!

  22. On January 18, 2010 at 5:35pm, Nicole Spasiano said...

    Oh man I want that! That looks so good. I doubt we get rock shrimp in boston :-( In fact I overheard the guys at our local food store telling someone the wrong thing about fish one day and I politely chased down the other customer so he would not prepare his dinner incorrectly! So i doubt their lack of fish knowlege will translate into buying!
    Luckily, I have family in Tampa so I might have a chance to get some rock shrimp one day!

  23. On January 19, 2010 at 8:44am, Amy from She Wears Many Hats said...

    I can almost smell this! Lydia is one of my favorites and her talents combined with yours…this has to be yum.

  24. On January 19, 2010 at 12:06pm, Kirsten said...

    Very inspiring! So excited, wish I had some local rock shrimp too! Thanks for sharing.

  25. On January 21, 2010 at 11:00pm, peter said...

    Nothing scary about rock shrimp…they look delicious alive and ultimately on the plate!

  26. On January 22, 2010 at 2:16am, The Duo Dishes said...

    That little shrimp does look scary. Yikes! But he’d be easy to eat!

  27. On May 16, 2014 at 8:57am, Caren said...

    Hi. Is there any alternative ingredient to replace the white wine? what if i don’t have one?

  28. On May 16, 2014 at 9:15am, Caren said...

    Hi. Is there any alternative ingredient to replace the white wine?what if i don’t have one?

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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