Easy and quick recipe for the tastiest shrimp!
Since now, I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t like shrimp. I’ve met a lot of people, some of them calling them prawns and some of them calling them shrimp, but not one who doesn’t drool in the sight of a plate full of these juicy, aromatic shellfish. After very thorough search (meaning some googling) I found out that prawns usually live in fresh waters while shrimps are found in salt waters, and that’s their biggest difference. You can use either of them, since their taste is similar. Today’s recipe is a traditional Greek one, using simple ingredients and of course some feta cheese! It’s meant to be an appetizer, but if you mix it with a package of cooked pasta you’ll have an awesome and quick dinner!
Now, if you managed to read beyond the word shrimp and didn’t immediately scroll down to the recipe, then you’re probably wondering what saganaki means. Saganaki is a type of pan with two handles. It’s just like the pan I used in my mediterranean vegetable orzotto with marinated cheese cubes post. But over the years, the word saganaki stopped being used to describe just a pan, and started to represent a number of quick recipes being prepared in this kind of skillet (like this baked feta cheese with tomato and horn peppers).
This recipe also requires a shot of ouzo. Ouzo is a Greek traditional anise-based spirit, and if you’ve ever been to Greece for the summer, you’ve definitely had one or two glasses in a little tavern by the sea. And even if you haven’t been to Greece, you’ve probably have a little bottle of ouzo, brought to you as a souvenir, by a friend who’s traveled there! And even if you haven’t got a bottle as a souvenir, and you can’t find or don’t want to spend money on buying a whole bottle (though it’s really good mixed with ice and little water) you can use sambuca or ground star anise instead!
Preparing the shrimp is probably the hardest part of this recipe. You can use either fresh or frozen (and thawed) shrimp, but stay away from the pre-cooked ones! I would tell you to leave their shells to keep as much flavor as possible, but this would make eating them really hard, so it is best to rinse them well and peel the shells off. Do it carefully with a sharp knife, and keep the heads and tails (for extra flavor). You should also devein them. You can find online many videos that show you how to do this, but I have to confess that I only devein them when I want to present them during a formal kind of dinner. When I’m with close friends and family I skip this step because it is time consuming (hey, don’t judge please!). Having that said, if your shrimp/prawns are very large and their vein too big, you should remove it because it will impart an odd taste and a “crunchy” texture due to the sand and other food residues.
DON’T overcook the shrimp, since this will surely result in them being dry.
Cook the shrimp leaving their heads and tails on. They add great flavor.
If you can’t find ouzo, use 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise. Or use them both!
Serve this as an appetizer, or mix it with a package of cooked pasta and transform it into a hearty dinner!
If you love seafood, check this super aromatic, delicious (and gluten free) cuttlefish stew!
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- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 can tomatoes, diced or pureed
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup ouzo or ½ teaspoon ground star anise (or both)
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 pound shrimp (about 10-12 pieces), peeled with the heads and tails left on
- ¼ teaspoon ground all spice
- 1 teaspoon bukovo (sweet red pepper flakes)
- A few drops tabasco sauce (optional)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium/high heat and add the onion and the red bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the ouzo and wait until the alcohol evaporates (about one minute).
- Add the tomato, salt, pepper, ground star anise if you use it, parsley, bukovo, tabasco and all spice. Cook for 5-10 minutes until a little thickened and add the shrimp.
- Cook the shrimp from one side until they change color, about 2-3 minutes, flip them and do the same for the other side.
- Turn off the heat and add the crumbled feta cheese.
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