Greek Shrimp Saganaki is a staple dish in Greek Cuisine. Ask anyone, who has traveled to Greece for the summer holidays and he will know it for sure (if haven't tasted already!).
It's seriously tasty, but also pretty simple to make. Traditionally we make it using fresh shrimp, removing only the outer shell, legs, and mustaches. We always leave the head on the shrimp, as it contains all the delicious flavor. Cooking headless shrimp will make the sauce 50% less flavorful. And that's a fact!
In a professional kitchen, Chefs use the heads of the shrimp to make a broth that they will use later on, in the main dish containing only the cleaned shrimps. So it's something like a broth. But this is a bit fussy to do when cooking at home and you just want to serve your family a quick dinner, and not feed the crowd of a restaurant.
If shrimps go well with tomato sauce, then they go extremely well with a sauce that contains some fresh tomatoes as well. It's that natural sweetness that exists both in the shrimps and the tomatoes. And when these two bind together the results are truly scrumptious!
So to make this Shrimp Saganaki you need to first make a quick tomato sauce made with olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic, fresh tomatoes (such as Roma or Pomodori though you may use any variety as long as they're ripe and sweet) and tomato passata.
This sauce gets nice and thick and is added to the shrimp once you sear and flambe (optional) them.
How To Clean & Prepare The Shrimps
- With a pair of scissors, cut off the mustaches of the shrimps.
- Pull and remove the small legs that are located on the belly.
- Remove the shells. Leave just one small piece of shell both at the top and bottom of the shrimp. To keep in place the head and tail.
- To remove the little black vain, take a toothpick, and prick the shrimp right under its head. Try and pull out very gently, the starting tip of this vein. Then hold the tip of the vein with your fingers and pull it out carefully. It will all come out in one piece. Just make sure you pull upwards towards the head and very slowly.
- Rinse the shrimps with cold water, and let drain in a strainer.
How To Make A Greek Shrimp Saganaki
Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan, and sear the shrimp for about a minute on each side. Then add a splash of brandy or Ouzo. If you feel confident and own a gas stove you may alight the alcohol if not simply let it evaporate.
Then you may add the sauce and a splash of water if needed and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add in the feta cheese and parsley and turn the heat off leaving the pan on the stove until the cheese softens. As we want the cheese to soften but not melt completely inside the sauce.
And then, all you have to do is get some crunchy, crusty bread and enjoy!
Shrimp Saganaki (With Tomato Sauce + Feta Cheese)
For The Sauce:
- olive oil
- ½ small (45 grams) red onion minced
- ½ small (40 grams) green bell pepper finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove chopped
- 2 large (200 grams) Pomodori or Roma tomatoes finely diced
- pinch of sugar
- 6 tablespoons passata
- 1 bay leaf
For The Saganaki:
- olive oil
- 10 (400 grams) medium-large or large shrimps fresh or frozen
- a splash of brandy or Ouzo
- 80 grams feta cheese coarsely crumbled
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
Make The Sauce:
- In a small saucepan heat a good splash of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper, and garlic, and cook until softened.
- Add the diced tomatoes, a pinch of sugar, season with a little bit of salt.
- Cook stirring occasionally until the tomato starts to drain completely and looks like it's about to stick at the bottom of the saucepan. Then stir in the passata.
- Cook for a minute more and then pour 2 cups of water wait until it starts to boil again. Season with freshly ground pepper, and add the bay leaf. Turn heat to medium and simmer for approx. 15-20 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Make The Saganaki:
- Clean and devein the shrimp leaving only one small shell at the top to hold the head in place and a small shell at the bottom to hold the tail. Cut the shrimp's mustaches with a pair of scissors. NOTE: You may remove the heads completely if you wish.
- Heat a splash of olive oil in a non-stick pan over high heat. Add sear the shrimps about a minute on each side.
- Add the splash of brandy and flambe (set alight briefly if you own a gas stove), or simply wait until the alcohol evaporates completely.
- Add the sauce to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add a splash of water if the sauce has gotten too thick. Simmer for 4-5 minutes. Flipping the shrimp at least once.
- Then turn the heat off and stir in the parsley and feta cheese. Leave the pan on the stove until feta cheese softens. And you're ready to serve!
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