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Hawaiian Garlic Shrimp

Recently, my sister had the good fortune of taking a trip to Hawaii. As you might imagine, we’re all insanely jealous. During our conversations about the Hawaii trip, someone mentioned a food truck on the north shore of Oahu, which sells the most delectable garlic shrimp. It didn’t take too much cajoling to convince me to investigate further.

Now, in my dream world, I’d hop on the next available Hawaii-bound airplane, with my sights set on shrimp. I’d comb that island until I discovered the mysterious shrimp truck and then I’d force myself to eat as many orders of that shrimp as necessary until I’d discerned the magical recipe. And well, if I had to drink a few fruit-garnished, tropical beverages during my travels, I guess I’d do that too. All in the name of commitment to a cause. But, considering I live in the real world, bound by time and financial constraints, I limited my research to the internet.

Identifying the shrimp truck was easy. Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp is served out of a white, graffiti-covered truck on the north shore of Oahu. They offer three options; Hot and Spicy, Lemon and Butter, or Shrimp Scampi. It’s the shrimp scampi recipe we’re after. So, I did a bit more searching around and actually found a video, which walks through a garlic shrimp recipe, based on the famous Hawaiian shrimp trucks.

Hawaiian Sea Salt, a gift from my sis

After watching the video, I rescheduled my whole day around making these shrimp. I even dragged the kids out in the pouring rain to get down to the grocery store for fresh shrimp, which they enjoyed for the exciting opportunity to wear rain boots. The result was well worth it; tender shrimp oozing with garlicky flavor and dripping in butter sauce. In Hawaii, they serve a pile of 12 jumbo shrimp with a mound of sticky rice. I added a side of steamed broccoli to complete the meal.

For authentic Hawaiian style, use the biggest shrimp you can get your hands on. To serve it up shrimp-truck style, devein the shrimp, but leave the shells on. This makes for a messy meal, so be prepared with extra napkins. In the future, I’d probably remove the shells before cooking, so more of the garlic sauce ends up in my mouth rather than on my fingers.

Hawaiian-Style Shrimp Scampi


  • 1 pound large shrimp, shell on, deveined
  • 3/4 cup clarified butter*
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1-2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into slices or wedges

*Clarified Butter is recommended, since it has a higher smoke point than regular butter. This will help to prevent the butter and garlic from burning as it cooks. For my easy photo guide to clarifying butter, click here. Two sticks of butter will produce just the right amount of clarified butter for this recipe.


Check that the shrimp have been deveined. Combine the flour, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a dish. Toss the shrimp in the flour mixture to coat. (There will be flour leftover.) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the clarified butter and garlic. Cook for a minute or two, then add the shrimp in a single layer. Cook for 3-4 minutes on one side, then turn the shrimp and cook for 3-4 minutes on the other side. Add the white wine and salt. Cook for a minute or two. Squeeze a bit of fresh lemon juice over the shrimp. Serve with a side of white rice and a lemon wedge.

Serves 2


37 responses »

  1. I made this last night and my husband said it was better than the shrimp trucks…and we live in Hawaii!

  2. I made this the other night and my husband and 3 year old daughter loved it! I’ve been wanting to try an orange peel shrimp and was thinking this recipe could be built upon for that. What do you think? Any suggestions? Love following your blog!

    • Glad you all enjoyed it! It would probably work as a base for orange peel shrimp, but I think I’d definitely cut down on the butter and garlic. Maybe try 1/4 cup butter and a couple cloves of garlic. Once the shrimp are cooked, I’d add some orange juice, soy sauce, and the orange peel and bring it to a simmer for a few minutes. The flour from the shrimp should work to thicken the sauce. If it doesn’t get as thick as you’d like, mix a spoonful or two of the sauce with a bit of cornstarch, then incorporate the cornstarch mixture back into the sauce and simmer for a minute or two. (Don’t add the cornstarch directly to the sauce or it will get lumpy.) That should thicken it right up!
      Thanks for your comments!

  3. great recipe taken from the same YouTube video I saw! I live in Hawaii and we tried making this recipe last night… I’ve got to say it is the closest thing from driving all the way to the North Shore! I want to make it again this week already! Good tip with using less flour as we had a lot of the flour mixture left that I might just reuse for the next time we make garlic shrimp!

  4. We have been blessed to go to Hawaii many times and we always always eat at Giovanni’s. Our signatures are all over that old white truck! When we eat shrimp at Giovanni’s, I don’t notice the flour … in fact, didn’t realize they used flour. There was no gravy… only a buttery yummy garlicky sauce. Does your recipe produce a gravy? I’d like your input…. because your shrimp looks fantastic…. before I try it .

    • Hi there! No, there is no gravy. It’s very buttery and garlicky. The flour seems to just help all of the garlic and butter to stick. It seems like a lot of flour, but only a small portion of that actually sticks to the shrimp. You can use less. I have not had the good fortune to visit Hawaii yet (though it’s high on my list of places to visit someday). Some of the comments though have said that this recipe is very close, if not better than the shrimp trucks. If you decide to give it a try, let me know what you think!

  5. Hi Amy, thank you for posting this! I pinned this recipe last week and finally tried it today – oh my! This is very close to the real thing and maybe has even more flavor, even my husband said so. We ate at shrimp trucks every day of the week we spent on the North Shore and this recipe really brings back memories. I would put the garlic in at the same time as the shrimp next time so it’s not browned and overpower the butter taste. Other than that, I love it. Thank you 🙂

  6. You are absolutely right Elizabeth about when to add the garlic. It is actually better to pre make a bunch of garlic cooked in oil. Then add at the end depending on what level of garlic amounts the person likes.

  7. Just returned from a week on the north shore of Oahu…was still craving more of the delicious Hawaiian shrimp truck cuisine. Found your recipe and cooked up a delicious dish. Thanks for the basis of my dish, I did alter it a bit…
    Used 1stick of salted butter + 1/4 cup olive oil and no additional salt neccessary
    Added garlic powder to the flour mixture
    Added red pepper flakes towards the end of the cooking process

    Very close to the medium spicy shrimp scampi from Blue Water Shrimp Co.

    YUM & Thanks!

  8. I would really like to know the specific white wine to be added there are so many types i dont want to ruin it.

    • Hi there!
      A dry white such as chardonnay or sauvignon blanc will work well. Even pinot grigio would do the job. I’d just avoid sweeter wines like gewurztraminer or riesling.
      Hope that helps! Enjoy!

  9. is it necessary to add the white wine? aha, i dont wanna go out and buy white wine esp if i wont drink the rest of it :).

    • hi there! you can definitely get around the wine. try substituting some lemon juice, watered down lemon juice, or a seafood broth. it will change the flavor a bit, but still be quite delicious! enjoy!

  10. Thanks! I’m trying this tonight! …Miss those shrimp-truck shrimp!

  11. Wow this was amazing. Thanks so much for sharing. I didn’t add the dry white wine, and didn’t substitute anything for it. I probably missed out on an important step, but it was delicious nonetheless! I made this twice in one week, and am looking forward to making it again 🙂

  12. I have recently come back from my honeymoon on Oahu, where we ate at Giovanni’s 4 times (and a couple others too). The hot and spicy is definitely worth trying! My tip is something one of the other trucks had painted on the side: 1. Suck! 2. Peel! 3 Eat! Less ends up on your fingers and the peeling makes it more fun… Also, less chance of rubbery shrimp. If anyone here goes to Oahu, you should definitely try Giovanni’s and get the barbeque corn from the girls next door as well.

  13. Evangelina Elliott

    Did you use Ghee?

  14. We loved the shrimp trucks when we were in Hawaii for our honeymoon. This recipe is pretty darn close to the real thing! With all the butter, it is very rich, though! I may add a splash more wine and lemon juice to thin out the butter next time and use a bit less flour because I had a lot left. But overall, this was just amazing! Thank you!

  15. We love Giovanni’s Shimp Truck!!! I’m making this tonight….do I really have to leave the shell on?

  16. Do you have a recipe for the hot and spicy shrimp?

  17. Can I leave out the white wine?

  18. Pingback: Simple Dinners–Garlic Shrimp, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Mapo Tofu | a cup of jasmine c.

  19. Pingback: Winner, Winner, Shrimp for Dinner! {Hawaiian Kahuku-Style Shrimp Recipe Round-up}

  20. OK I bought all the ingredients. Read the recipe and whipped it all together. Cooked the rice and set the table. Had dinner with my husband and bamm Success and Being back in Hawaii flooded our room. As we say in Hawaii…. It was so Onto….broke da mouth! Mahalo!!!!!


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The Gourmand Mom

Good food, seasoned with a dash of life

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