Sep

28

2012

The Duo’s Ethnic Exploration: Greek

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Garides Saganaki (Greek Shrimp Saganaki)

Seafood • Tags: , , , , , ,

Cooking Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo DishesIn just over a week, I will be in Greece. That is why we are sharing a recipe from the land of extensive history, beautiful landscapes and dishes that make the cuisine a favorite amongst many. Amir will not be there during the trip, so I’ve taken it upon myself to lead the course for us both. Perhaps I’ll eat for two. And not because I am pregnant! Greek food has long been high on my list as a ‘favorite’, even though the Libra in me has a hard time signifying anything as a favorite. The Greek won me over with their passion for life and food with everyone around them, related or not. The idea that anyone in the house is family is one that rings true for me and those around me. We When there is a sizzling plate before you and your loved ones, all you want to do is share. This month’s Ethnic Exploration features a dish that is perfect for doing just that.

Greek Feta Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

I am quite familiar with Greek food. Mostly everything I learned came from an intense love and appreciation for the food, but also due to the fact that I spent several months teaching a Greek class at a local cooking school. Three hours of instruction later, we had a feast before us, and it was the kind of meal that came together–almost by magic–in front of everyone’s eyes. One of my favorite dishes is the ‘saganaki’. A long time ago, I thought saganaki was specific to the salty, slightly rubbery halloumi cheese, but I learned that the word is just a term for the two-handled pan in which the dish is prepared. The idea is similar to Moroccan tagines, wherein the word refers to the dish but also the beautiful pot used to make a tagine.

 

Kalamata Olives Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

In theory, many ingredients can find themselves in the saganaki position. A number of Greek restaurants offer halloumi saganaki, and the first time you order it, no doubt there will be gasps as a flaming little slab of cheese finds its way on your table. Peter of Kalofagas will tell you that the fire display is all a production put on for foreign audiences. While dining in tavernas in Greece, you will not be treated to the same show. Instead, the cheese shows up seared, hot, crispy and ready to eat. Enough about cheese! What about the rest of the saganaki family? Shrimp saganaki is a big one, as well as mussels, scallops and chicken. I poked around for vegetarian versions and spotted spinach saganaki and tofu saganaki too. If all you need is a pan, saganaki whatever you like.

Vine Tomatoes Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

The key ingredients in this dish were few, but they are indispensable. First, you will need Greek feta. Hands down. There is no substitute. Do not use pre-crumbled feta if at all possible. Please visit your grocer’s cheese section or stroll down to a local Eastern European or Greek market. You will find creamy, salty feta cheese–hopefully Greek feta–in brine. If you cannot find Greek feta, go for whatever variety is packed in liquid. You want that liquid to keep the cheese flavorful and moist. Secondly, you will need a little ouzo. This is the Greek drink of choice! The anise-flavored liqueur is normally an aperitif, but you may find people sipping it all day long. The liquid is clear in the bottle, but pour it over an ice cube, and everything goes cloudy. Including your vision after a few shots. A dash of ouzo in the mix adds authentic flavor to your saganaki. You can find ouzo at liquor stores, as well as ethnic grocery stores and markets.

Onions & Fennel Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

Now, let’s talk about the saganaki dish itself. Neither one of us owns anything with two handles, but that’s just fine if you have an oven safe frying pan. Everything starts on the stove, and when the time comes, slide the entire pan into the oven. It’s a one dish kind of meal. This meal, shrimp saganaki, is as easy as they come. Once the fragrant onion and fennel slices are soft, and the fresh tomatoes have melted to form a rough sauce of sorts, it’s just a matter of minutes before you eat. The shrimp cooks in no time, and the final step is a blast in a hot oven just to melt the feta cheese. Before you can say ‘Opa!’, dinner is served.

Ouzo Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

I’m looking forward to eating my way through Athens and Santorini, and of course, I’ll bring back some sort of edible goodies for Amir. If only I could ship some of that cheese! He may have to settle for ouzo and olive oil, which is not too bad if I say so myself. In the meantime, we can all enjoy saganaki at home. We can also learn even more about Greek cuisine from the numerous websites and books that share recipe and recipe. The newest cookbook brought to our attention is called The Country Cooking of Greece by cooking school owner and chef Diane Kochilas. It is packed with more than 250 recipes! If you live here in L.A., pay a visit to Traveler’s Bookcase and grab a copy. Look out for travel-inspired collaborations with Traveler’s Bookcase owner, Natalie Compagno, in the very near future. In the meantime, saganaki your way to a culinary experience of Greece.

Garides Shrimp Saganaki - The Duo Dishes

Garides Saganaki (Greek Shrimp Saganaki)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Greek
Serves: 2 to 4
 
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large vine tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ - ½ small yellow chile pepper, thinly sliced, to taste
  • 1 medium lemon, zested
  • ½ pound large shrimp, cleaned and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
  • ⅛ pound Greek feta cheese, in brine crumbled
  • Fresh chopped parsley
  • Warm pita bread
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the fennel and onions. Toss to coat with the oil and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes, oregano, garlic and salt. Stir well, reduce heat to medium and cook for another 8-10 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to soften and break down.
  3. Stir in the chile pepper, lemon zest and shrimp. Cook for approximately 30 seconds. Just as all of the shrimp begin to turn pink, sprinkle the olives and feta cheese on top. Slide into a preheated oven at 500 degrees. Bake for 5-7 minutes for the cheese to melt.
  4. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately. Garnish with parsley and serve with warm pita bread, if desired.

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Comments

12 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. This was one of my favorite dishes when I visited Greece. Nice work

    Reply

  2. This looks amazing. I definitely would love to try this at home.

    Reply

  3. Looks delicious! I love fennel, especially when slow roasted/cooked in dishes like this one. So many complex flavors unified together with ouzo, and delicious cheese. I’m officially hungry! :) And officially jealous of your trip to Greece! :-)

    Reply

  4. Love Greek kitchen….this is so flavourful and delicious. Well done.

    Reply

  5. Enjoy your time in Greece it will be such an amazing adventure. As of this dish I have made a version but nearly as flavourful as this. It is a must try.

    Reply

  6. OPA!!! Love this dish. Have a safe and wonderful trip! We’ve been, and it’s even more fabulous than you think it’s going to be.

    Reply

  7. Girlllll! I’m sooo excited for you, have a crazy-mad-fabulous-gooood time in Greece. Can’t wait to hear about your trip. Wonderful pics btw. XO

    Reply

  8. Wow this looks insanely good. Have fun on your trip!

    Reply

  9. That looks great and how wonderful that you’ll be visiting Greece soon. It’s still on my bucket list so I’m hoping one of these years. Safe travels to you and happy feasting!

    Reply

  10. Ouzo. It must be good! GREG

    Reply

  11. I love shrimp saganaki – such an awesome dish!

    Reply

  12. […] Garides Saganaki (Greek Shrimp Saganaki)A typical dish hailing from Greece, the seafood dish is perfect for cooking up on Friday night. It’s a one-stop dish. All you have to do is wait for the onions, fennel, and tomatoes to cook down into a homestyle sauce before you cook the shrimp in it. And you know that takes no time. I like eating food that transports to you a place you have fond memories of or are getting ready to trek to. This will definitely give you a “Big Fat Greek Wedding” experience. […]

    Reply

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