Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Garides Saganaki

I have reminisced about my time in Greece, and the country’s amazing cuisine, before. As my own summer now gets more and more ruthless, my thoughts turn to that long ago summer in Athens. Running around to and from meetings in the heat and traffic of the city (in a suit no less!), catching a gyro-lunch on the fly or sitting down to a fresh salad in the shade, dreaming of the islands that we would visit during the weekend.

There is less running around to meetings now, but I am still working in the summer’s remorseless heat (as only summer heat in a city can be), clacking away at my computer while sweat drips down my back. I still have to deal with a city’s staggering traffic. And I still dream of the islands I’m going to visit during the weekend (not every weekend, but on a certain weekend next month I’m off!).

The only thing missing is the food. With only three restaurants in the city and surrounds devoted to Greek cuisine (and of course, for some, we can’t even say solely to Greek cuisine as the occasional Filipino-fusioned dish will make an appearance on the menu), I don’t exactly have a plethora of choices. Well, that stops now.

Garides saganaki is a dish made of shrimp (garides), tomato sauce, and cheese (saganaki). You can find it in all over Greece in countless restaurants and ouzerie’s. You can even find it in the aforementioned three Greek restaurants here. And now you can find it on my table. Bliss.

Garides Saganaki
(my own patchwork of a recipe adapted from various recipes)
  • 500-600 grams prawns, peeled and deveined, head and tail intact
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 7-8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-2 small dried chilis
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 400-gram can chopped tomatoes
  • 170 grams feta cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

- Drizzle lemon juice over prepped prawns and set aside.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan. Toss in the garlic and onions, and sauté until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add dried oregano (crushing between your fingers as you do) and chilis, and sauté until the fragrance wafts up.
- Add fresh tomatoes and sauté until soft, and then toss in the canned tomatoes
- Let this simmer, covered, to allow flavors to develop, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add prawns and cover. Simmer until prawns are cooked, turning pinky-orange. Check after 5 minutes because this shouldn’t take too long and you don't want to overcooked them.
- Crumble feta in (reserving a few bits for topping) and add parsley. Stir through then remove from heat.
- Transfer everything to a baking dish, top with remaining feta, and place under a preheated grill until feta is toasty.
- Serves 2-3.

I decided to use prawns instead of shrimps to take this from meze to main course. The combination of the prawns, tomato, and feta, embraced by the oregano, chili, and garlic is a stellar mix. It’s also one of C’s favorite Greek dishes, so all the more reason to have it on our menu!

Greek food at home! Sweet liberation…hooray!

There are more Greek dishes I want to try…including my favorite. But that is a recipe for another post…

To all the Manilenyos out there…keep cool!


Pille said...

I love fried saganaki (just cheese, no shrimps, as I don't eat the latter), and I love Greek cuisine in general:)
Are you off to Greece any time soon??

Anh said...

Wonderful! I live in the midst of Greek community and man, they are loud! :D I love saganaki, and your recipe is a must try.

Gattina said...

I'm not a big fan of pairing seafood with cheese. But after reading your wonderful post, now I want to taste this garides saganaki, really beautiful!

wysgal said...

Looks amazingly easy, something I'd love to give a try now that I have more time on my hands (and your photos are much more crisp and clear now that you've switched over to Flickr!). =)

Midge said...

Joey, those shrimp look absolutely beautiful; the colors just scream "summer" and "the Med". I was a bit iffy about pairing shrimp and cheese years ago, but with things like seafood pizzas and saganaki having been introduced in recent years, I find that it's a lovely, tasty combo.

katrina said...

YUM, YUM, YUM, I love Garides Saganaki! It's one of my favorite Greek dishes because it combines some of my favorite things: shrimp, cheese and garlic.

Did you ever see flaming saganaki when you were in Greece? I know it's not an authentic Greek dish, but I was wondering if they had adopted it, just as Bicolanos now believe Bicol Express actually originated there. After all, just 'cause something's not authentic, doesn't mean it's not delicious. ;-)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Pille! How I wish! I don't know when I will next have the chance to visit Greece...I hope one day I do! :) I also like fried halloumi (which is think is similar or the same, just from Cyprus) :)

Hi Anh! How fun! Yes, they are very loud and passionate about life :)

Hi Gattina! This works well...also because the cheese does not get too oozy...feta generally keeps itself together :)

Hi Wysgal! Yup, it's very easy to put together :) I'm also using a new camera! My dad lent me his, which is in a totally different league from my little cybershot. I'm still trying to get the hang of it! But, to whom do I credit all the help with Flickr? Hmmmm....I cannot thank you enough Wysgal!!! :)

Hi Midge! Thanks! :) I think they look very "summery" too :) Shrimp and cheese can be a good pairing...I think it also depends on the cheese...

Hi Katrina! Now you can make it! It looks simple right? :) I never saw flaming saganaki (with the Opa!) in Greece...I think that bit came from Chicago, heehee :) I did eat at a place in Santorini where they made me shout out the name of my dish if I wanted to order it (I forget the name but I know it was not a simple one...)! So...where does Bicol Express come from? :)

Freya and Paul said...

Cheese and Prawns, very unusual combination but one I wouldn't be adverse to trying! Looks great!

Linda said...

how lovely. thank you for sharing this greek cultural tid bit. this dish sounds so flavor-packed, yet simple! love the photograph.

i agree... city living gets HOT... no air-conditioned cars to pop into when your sweating walking from this place to that.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Patchwork recipes are some of the most spectacular and this look excellent. I don't really see chees in the photo but I like the sound of it in the recipe.

katrina said...

Bicol Express was invented by Cely Kalaw (of Tita Cely's Sinigang Bar). She came up with it years ago when she was with this then-famous restaurant called The Grove (I vaguely remember my parents mentioning that place). Her laing was very popular, but some people asked if she could make it less spicy for those who couldn't take the heat. So she did that, then created a side dish of chilis in coconut milk (real Bicol Express is not the pork dish we often see today), which you could eat as a side dish to the laing if you wanted more heat. One day, a journalist was coming to interview her, but she still had no name for the new side dish. Just then, what happened to pass by right outside? That's right -- the train, Bicol Express!

I bet many Bicolanos today would not believe this story, though. But I heard it straight from Tita Cely herself.

Anonymous said...

This is such a unique dish! Greece is someplace I have always wanted to visit, it sounds so lovely.

(Baking and Books)

Franco said...

Lovely dish.

I love saganaki but really, I love cheese in general. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Freya! It's not bad at all :) And it's a very traditional Greek dish :)

Hi Linda! Thanks! Yes, it's very simple but tasty :) Just came in from doing some errands and boy it's scorching! I try to walk around as much as I can because of the traffic (and parking) but sometimes I just have to take the car because of the heat...

Hi Tanna! Thanks :) What is a patchwork if not taking the best parts from different places and making it into one new delicious whole? :) The cheese is crumbled in there somewhere amidst the tomatoes :)

Hey Katrina! Thanks for the info! Super interesting :) Now that you mention it, I think I remember reading something like this in Lori's? Good to know! :)

Hi Ari! Greece is definitely lovely...so vibrant and full of life and passion...and a little bit of magic thrown down from Mt. Olympus :) You can still feel it on the streets sometimes :)

Hi Franco! Thank you :) Ah cheese, I agree, what's not to like? :)

Ivonne said...

Hi Joey,

You know last year I really got interested in Greek food and am looking forward to making a lot of it in the summer.

This dish is just gorgeous!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Ivonne! Yes, doesn't it just give of a summer vibe? :) Must be one of the reasons I love it :)

Melting Wok said...

more shrimps plz :) haha, had some feta cheese mediterranian chicken sub..wow, to pair tt w/shrimps, tt's gutsy :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Melting Wok! That sub sounds delicious! I have to try something like that sometime :) Ok, I may just be dense or not quite "with it", but I have to ask...what's "tt"? :)

Laurie said...

Hi Chicajo,

Several friends and I went out to a Greek restaurant last night in Alexandria, VA. We all love Greek food ever since we went to visit Greece in 2005. A group of us are going to Greece again this summer because we love it so much. The beauty of the land and the sea and the wonderful food. I had Garides Saganaki last night. Today I went out to the web to find a recipe as the dish was delicious. Thanks so much for listing it. I can't wait to make it.

ChichaJo said...

Hi Laurie! Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment :) When I was based in Greece for work I ate the local food every day and never grew tired of it :) Glad to be of service!