Loosely translated, the Italian term “fra diavolo” means “caught up with the devil,” the devil in this case being the crushed red pepper flakes that give the dish its signature heat.
Fra diavolo sauce is usually tomato-based, and served with either lobster or shrimp, and a long cut of pasta like spaghetti or linguine.
Arribbiata sauce (aka angry sauce), is very similar to fra diavolo, but generally served over pasta alone, and topped with grated cheese, something Italians never do with fish and seafood dishes.
Tips For Making Great Shrimp fra Diavolo
The most important thing to keep in mind when making this dish is balance.
To be sure that all the flavors shine through, Shrimp fra Diavolo should be lightly sauced and have just enough heat to add some gusto, but not so much that it overpowers the sweetness of the shrimp, or the tanginess of the tomatoes.
It’s best to add the crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce in small increments, giving it a minute or two for the flavor to infuse before tasting and adding more.
Jumbo shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) are a good choice for Shrimp fra Diavolo because they’re small enough to toss easily with pasta, yet large enough for their flavor to really stand out.
Good quality canned tomatoes are important here too. Look for an Italian brand of San Marzano whole tomatoes. They have fewer seeds, less water content, and a richer tomato flavor.
More Shrimp and Pasta Recipes
Shrimp Fra Diavolo
- 1 lb jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined (tails left on, see notes)
- 10 ounces linguine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups canned tomatoes, crushed (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup chiffonade of fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- Put a pot of salted water on to boil for the linguine.
- Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, 2 minutes longer.
- Stir in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Cook for 2 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper and add another pinch of the crushed red pepper if desired.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and continue cooking the sauce for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce simmers, cook and drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add the pasta water to the sauce, raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp.
- Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the shrimp turn pink and opaque, 2 to 3 minutes then stir in the fresh basil.
- Add the shrimp and sauce to the linguine and toss to combine.
- Plate individual servings, garnish with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and serve.
- About the shrimp: Shrimp classified as jumbo are generally 21 to 25 per pound.
- About the tomatoes: For this dish we recommend using whole, canned, San Marzano tomatoes. The best way to crush them is to transfer them to a bowl and use your hands.
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