Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Greek Shrimp Taverna

Brrrrr. It was a dark and stormy night at the dock, and damned cold as well. Maybe not so dark, since it was summer in SE Alaska. But the evening was far too wet and windy to barbecue the shrimp on the aft deck, though the Capt. would have obliged. Instead I turned to a colorful, spicy indoor recipe to warm us up. Polar fleece, sturdy rain gear and an occasional visit to the hot springs pools may help to keep us comfortable outdoors, but there’s nothing like home cooking in the galley to warm up the ship and the crew. The aroma also seems to attract a few neighboring boaters who drop by to see what’s cooking.

It’s hard to have just one favorite shrimp/prawn recipe when there are so many tasty choices. We love Cajun barbecued prawns, peel-and-eat shrimp fresh from the cooker, shrimp scampi, shrimp cocktail, shrimp quesadillas and more. For that night at the dock, Greek Taverna Shrimp topped our list of favorites. The setting, with the muted thundering of a  waterfall in the background added a special touch as well.

Is this an authentic Greek recipe? I don’t know, but countless similar versions appear in so many cookbooks that I’m convinced it could be. I would love to travel to Greece  to find out. Noshing my way along the coast, nibbling on shrimp dishes, taverna by taverna sounds like a perfect research project.

Rhapsody Greek Shrimp Taverna
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp/prawns, peeled & deveined
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pernod (or dry sherry, vermouth or dry white wine)
4 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, diced or 1 can peeled, chopped plum tomatoes chopped (and their juices)
1 teaspoon each, dried oregano and basil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 green onions, green and white portions, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled into chunks
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley or basil or both, chopped

French bread, cooked orzo or rice to accompany.

  1. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the shrimp and saute briefly (2-3 minutes), stirring and tossing the whole time, until the shrimp are barely pink. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside in a wide, shallow ovenproof bowl, baking dish or 4 small ramekins.
  3. To the same saute pan add the onion and saute over medium heat until golden but not browned (4-5 minutes). Add the garlic and saute until fragrant (1-2 minutes).
  4. Add the pernod (or wine, etc.) and boil over high heat until reduced to about 3 tablespoons.
  5. Add the tomatoes and their juices, oregano, basil and pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally and cook until juices are thickened (about 20 minutes). Note: or use Italian seasoned tomato sauce and cook for 3 to 3 minutes till thickened.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 F. or preheat the broiler.
  7. Pour the sauce over the shrimp. Sprinkle the feta and chopped green onions over the top. Bake until the shrimp are pink and firm, about 6-8 minutes, or broil until the cheese bubbles or turns golden, about 4-5 minutes. 
  8. Sprinkle with the fresh chopped herbs and serve hot, accompanied by crusty bread, pasta or rice to soak up the juices.

 Note: these work especially well as small plates or tapas

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