Here is another favorite Greek dish that is actually incredibly easy to prepare, and can be easily replicated in Manila as well as most cosmopolitan cities around the world. We ordered garides saganaki a couple of times during our recent trip Greece (and several more times at Greek restaurants here and abroad) so I think I understand the gist of the recipe… Fresh succulent shrimps in a rich tomato sauce flavored with some wine and lots of herbs and a nice topping of salty feta cheese. The Italians seem to have a fairly strict rule against mixing seafood with cheese, but they are missing out on some spectacular pairings, in my opinion. But before I get to the recipe, a couple of notes/suggestions/comments first…
Should you use whole shrimp or peeled? Whole shrimp is probably more authentic, but more importantly, it brings all kinds of juices and flavors that you will get less off if you use peeled shrimp. Using whole shrimp may also make the dish more liquid-y than you expected, so the consistency of your tomato sauce needs to be adjusted a bit. But a word of warning, if you use whole shrimp, take the effort to slit the backs of the shrimp and remove the poop. I know, cooking shows say fancy things like the shrimp vein or whatever, but it is really the intestine/poop sack, in my opinion, and “sand” is the least of my worries. If you don’t have access to good whole shrimp, peeled shrimp will do fine. Try not to use too deep a dish when baking this, I suspect a wider flatter vessel helps to dry the dish out a bit, although examples in Greece were sometimes brought to the table in a soup bowl equivalent. I like using canned plum tomatoes for this dish, though I suspect it works brilliantly with really good fresh tomatoes. Have lots of bread or pasta on the side, the sauce is brilliant. Use more feta than you think you will need, it is excellent just by itself spread on some bread. Serve this with a large greek salad for a perfectly delicious and healthy meal.
First, make the tomato sauce. In a medium sized sauce pan, saute some chopped onion and garlic in a generous amount of olive oil until soft. Do not burn the garlic. Add some canned tomatoes, oregano, a little white wine (I used about 1/2 cup to one can of whole tomatoes), salt and pepper and let this reduce over medium heat until you have a nice medium thick consistency. Place some of the sauce at the bottom of a baking dish and place the shrimp on top. I used white large shrimp rather than black tiger prawns but either would work. Oops, forgot the chopped parsley which you can add into the tomato sauce then cover the shrimp with sauce, tapping the dish to get rid of air pockets…
Add big chunks of feta cheese on top and bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for some 25-35 minutes, or until the shrimp is fully cooked and the sauce has released some of the shrimp liquid. Depending on your shrimp, this could be a bit watery and you may choose to pre-saute the shrimp before adding the tomato sauce. I happen to like the shrimp essence, so I don’t bother with the saute step.
Once you take it out of the oven, sprinkle with some more chopped italian parsley and serve hot. It’s a bit messy to eat but super delicious. You could pair it with noodles, bread or even steamed rice.
While I don’t typically recommend keeping cooked shrimp for long, this dish actually tasted better the next day… the leftovers had more flavor and the sauce had reduced during its overnight stint in the refrigerator. Highly recommended and comes with such a snazzy name, too… “Hon, anong dinner mamaya?” “Ay, Garides Saganaki…” “What’s that?” “Sugpo, kamatis at keso…” Heeheehee. Obviously, I couldn’t write for a local afternoon soap opera. :)