Shrimp cooked in a rich and spicy tomato sauce with ouzo and feta
In Greek cooking there are a whole slew of dishes which are categorized as saganaki. One of the most popular is cheese saganaki, that meze of fried cheese set aflame with the help of a little ouzo or Metaxa, which causes restaurant patrons to exclaim Opa! in delighted unison. The term saganaki actually refers to the small, two-handled frying pan in which the food is cooked called a sagani, a derivative of the Turkish word sahan, which means copper dish. Remember long ago when we told you that Mia Kouppa would also make you smarter? You’re welcome.
Shrimp saganaki is a truly wonderful dish and can certainly be served as a meal. But at the same time, spicy, rich, and creamy, this is the type of recipe that conjures up images of friends sitting around a table, sipping on some ouzo, talking, laughing and enjoying a delicious array of mezedes together. Offered with an assortment of dips and spreads like tzatziki, fava and melitzanosalata, bowls of marinated olives, and platters of greens such as horta or vlita, shrimp saganaki would be an easy and wonderful addition to the party.
Truth is, despite the origin of the name, you don’t actually need a special pan to prepare your saganaki dishes; any frying pan will usually do just fine with most recipes. Shrimp saganaki for instance just needs a pan large enough to fit all of your ingredients.
Shrimp saganaki tends to be a spicy dish, hence the chili flakes. Our version is mildly spicy, and just the way that we like it. We find that overpowering heat takes away from the subtle flavour of the ouzo and other spices, and upsets the delicate nature of the shrimp. Plus, some members of our family are a little sensitive to spicy 🙂
You will need 500 grams of shrimp for this recipe, and we like to use 16 – 20 count; the count refers to the actual size of each shrimp. Specifically, when we say 16 – 20 count, it means that there are 16 – 20 shrimp per pound; this is an average sized shrimp. If your count is larger, your shrimp will be smaller. If your count is smaller, your shrimp will be larger.
We completely peel the shrimp prior to cooking it for our shrimp saganaki. Although keeping the shell of the tail on can add flavour, it makes it more difficult to eat. Besides, the shrimp saganaki has enough flavour with all of the other great ingredients, you really don’t need the tail. Be sure to also remove the vein of the shrimp as you are preparing if for cooking. If you would like to see a video of peeling and de-veining shrimp, here is a great one posted by Epicurious.
If you will be using frozen shrimp, be sure to defrost them under cold running water or allow them to sit in a bowl of cold water, if you will be using them the same day. Otherwise, they can defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Never use warm or hot water to defrost your shrimp; this is unnecessary and can potentially lead to a situation where your delicate shrimp gets partially cooked on the surface by the hot water, leading to rubbery shrimp. Also, the idea or defrosting anything, especially seafood in hot or warm water just seems to us like it’s a potentially risky and unsafe situation. Better safe than sorry!
Looking for more seafood recipes? See these:
Shrimp saganaki (Γαρίδες σαγανάκι)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red pepper, cut into strips
- 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes 283 grams
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 1/2 tbsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 cup (250 mL) tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 500 grams shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 3 tbsp (45 mL) ouzo
- 3/4 cup Greek feta, crumbled
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the minced garlic, red pepper strips, cherry tomatoes, chili flakes, oregano and paprika and saute for an additional 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring regularly for 2 - 3 minutes and then add the shrimp to the pan with the ouzo. Stir, cover your skillet, and cook for 5 minutes, on medium-low.
- Uncover your skillet and sprinkle the crumbled feta onto the shrimp and tomato mixture. Cover again for an additional 3 - 5 minutes, on medium-low. Your feta will not melt, but will be soft.
- Uncover the skillet and remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
- Serve and enjoy!