My picture above is the view from one of my favorite summer restaurants in Arkassa village. It really is as serene as it looks.
Now that it’s getting close to summer island vacation time, all I can think about is sitting with a cold glass of wine or ouzo, overlooking the sea, and eating mezedes (Greek version of tapas) with great company.
Long, leisurely lunches usually follow a day of swimming. I take hours and hours to dine and savor each bite. Some of my friends in the States get incredibly annoyed with me every time we’re at a restaurant. I refuse to rush through my meal and get up the minute we’re done eating! I think they’ve learned to like it my way…;)
The seafood is fresh: caught the same day its served. You can smell and taste the sea in the food.
Tavernas bring to mind ‘family time.’ All of us cousins would get seated at the kids end of the table to our delight. Once the Greek salad was placed on the table, we would all reach with our forks at the big block of feta to fight for the biggest piece. I always lost!
The menu list at summer tavernas usually include a lot of seafood: Freshly grilled or fried fish with a lemon-olive oil drizzle, tender octopus, stuffed calamari…
and SHRIMP SAGANAKI (my favorite). It is shrimp simmered in a spiced tomato sauce with melted feta. The shrimp are amazing by themselves, but you can’t eat it without dipping lots of fresh bread into the sauce.
The vegetables add a depth to the sauce, the melted cheese adds richness, and the shrimp simmered in the sauce infuses fresh seafood flavor into all the ingredients.
I like to add extra chili flakes for more of a kick, but not everyone likes it so spicy.
Here is my recipe for SHRIMP SAGANAKI
serves 6 (appetizer serving)
- 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil
- 2 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 24 medium shrimp, whole and heads on (the heads give a lot of flavor, you dont have to eat them if you dont want to)
- Sea salt (if you have it) and freshly ground pepper
- Dried oregano
- Crushed chili flakes or a dash of cayenne
- a few dashes coriander
- 1 1/2 ounces ouzo
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 20-ounces of freshly chopped tomato (use canned if you must)
- 2/3 cup chopped green pepper
- 2 tbs chopped olives
- 2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 1/2 tbs. chopped fresh parsley
-Heat olive oil in a large pan or pot over Medium Heat.
-Add garlic and then onion and green pepper until soft, but dont let the onion and garlic burn.
-Add the shrimp with salt, pepper, oregano, and chili pepper or cayenne pepper, and sweet paprika, let them simmer 1-2 minutes
-Remove pan from heat and add ouzo. It may flame, but it will subside. Let simmer for 1 minute.
-Then add the wine and simmer for 30 seconds- remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon on a plate so that the shrimp dont overcook
-Add the crushed tomato and chopped olives and simmer for 2-3 minutes
-Add the shrimp back in the pan, and top with the crumbled feta. Press the feta into the sauce so it melts.
-Right before serving, sprinkle fresh parsley over the shrimp
Its nice to serve in a clay dish, but put in any dish you have and dont forget to absorb all the sauce into fresh bread!