- Course: Main Course
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 64 Times
In Italy the phrase “alla fra diavolo” (AH-lah dee-AH-voh-loh), which means “in Brother Devil’s style,” refers to a dish in which chicken is sprinkled heavily with black pepper and then grilled. In America, lobster fra diavolo became a popular restaurant dish in the 1930s—it was unknown in Italy, where they do not have American lobsters. It was one of the dishes my mother had to learn from my father’s mother, and cook properly, before she would believe that my mother was fit to marry her son.
The reference to “brother Devil” refers both to the red color of the lobster and the tomato sauce and to the hot bite provided by chile pepper in some form, which suggests that this might have originated with Abruzzese cooks who came to this country. While you may use cayenne pepper, the dried chile peppers give it a better flavor—adjust it to your degree of tolerance for hot peppers.
We’ve substituted shrimp for the lobster, but the dish may be made with either shellfish.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- One 28-ounce can Italian-style tomatoes, crushed or coarsely chopped, with juices
- ¾ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt, preferably kosher
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or cayenne
- 1¼ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1. In a medium-size saucepan, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 7 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
3. Add the shrimp, increase the heat to medium, and cook until the shrimp are done, 3 to 5 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and serve at once.
Wine suggestion: Valpolicella
© 2000 John Mariani and Galina Mariani
Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving.