Flambeed Shrimp with Fennel and Sun-dried Tomatoes

Flambéed Shrimp

With shrimp fresh off the boat and fennel and tarragon from a farmer’s market, flambéed shrimp is one heavenly dish.  Even with previously frozen shrimp and dried tarragon, it’s very good. Fennel and Sambuca give it a mild licorice flavor.

If you want to double the recipe for company, keep in mind the more liqueur, the bigger the fire.  For more than four servings, flambé in batches. I admit I haven’t tried flambéeing a bigger batch than four servings; I’m a wimp when it comes to fires in my motorhome or house.

I found inspiration for this recipe in the June 2006 issue of Highways. It’s been a favorite dish ever since. In Bob Blumer’s original recipe, he uses cherry tomatoes rather than sun-dried, and he recommends sopping up the sauce with rustic bread. To make it gluten-free, I’ve served it over zucchini noodles, rice, or gluten-free linguini. Bread lovers may want to try it with a tasty loaf.

Active time: 30 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes

Specialized Kitchen Utensils

  • Nothing special for this one

Serves 2


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 3/4 to 1 lb 21/25-count shrimp, shelled and de-veined
  • ¼ cup anise-flavored liqueur (Sambuca is my favorite. Others include Ouzo and Pernod.)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/3 cup (or more) sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese for topping, optional
  • Zucchini noodles, rice or linguini, prepared according to directions


Dice the white, round base of the fennel bulb, discarding the green stalks.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add fennel; sauté for 2 minutes. Add shrimp; sauté for 2 minutes.  The shrimp may still have some grey in them; they still have more cooking time.

Before lighting the fire in the pan, clear the immediate area of anything flammable.  Add the liqueur, let it warm for five seconds, and then light it with a butane candle lighter. Turn the lights down low to fully appreciate the romantic blue flames, which will burn themselves out in 20 to 40 seconds.  Add cream, tarragon, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  (I often add extra sun-dried tomatoes; it adds so much flavor.) Reduce for a few minutes, until sauce thickens.

Serve over zucchini noodles, rice, or linguini. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over top, if desired.

Louise Ostrow prepares this shrimp dish at Sylvan Lake State Park in Colorado.

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