I forgot how much I love shrimp.
The seashells that I used to swallow as a child on the southern Oregon coast have suffered – along with so many other foodstuffs – from globalization.
Americans’ growing appetite for easy-to-shell, pre-cooked, and inexpensive shrimp has created an industry of substandard produce, not to mention poor working conditions overseas and unsustainable fishing and farming practices. All of these factors combined have kept me from enjoying shrimp in general for two decades.
I even advocated the use of sustainably-caught, crisp Pacific prawns instead of larger specimens in a recent blog post for Shrimp Cocktail Salad. I still maintain this substitution, but I chose to prepare the original recipe in a recent video shoot for RoseBud Media. Visually, I wanted the “wow” factor of the big shrimp, so I bought some raw shelled wild Gulf shrimp from the seafood counter in Cartwright.
I showed the camera how to peel and devein the shrimp, then simply poached them in tangy water and mixed them in a homemade cocktail sauce with sliced green onions and green olives, diced red pepper and fresh cilantro. And – wow! – were they good.
Proving that the simplest preparations are the best, the recipe is so quick that you don’t have to worry about spending more time peeling and deveining the raw shrimp. Look for the next episode of “For the love of food” to learn how.
The following recipe, courtesy of Tribune News Service, has a very similar flavor profile from green onions, tomatoes, and fresh herbs. While canned tomatoes are indicated, fresh tomatoes could definitely be substituted if you already have some in your garden or if you can find locally grown fruit at farmers’ markets, farm stalls, or local grocery stores. And while parsley is traditional, seasonal basil could also be used for a delicious effect.
These quantities give aperitif portions intended to be shared between several people.
Photo courtesy of the Tribune’s information service
Shrimps with Feta and Tomato
16 medium raw shrimp
5 tablespoons of olive oil
1 3/4 ounces of green onions, including some of the green part, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley (flat leaf), divided
Salt and black pepper, to taste
4 1/2 ounces of feta, crumbled
Peel and deveine the shrimp, leaving the tails intact. Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet with a lid and sauté the scallions over medium-low heat until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of parsley and season with S&P to taste. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes.
Add the shrimp to the pan and turn to cover them all with the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes. Spread the feta, cover and cook until the feta barely softens, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice. Serve with a good grind of pepper and the remaining 2 tablespoons of parsley scattered on top, along with fresh, crisp bread.
Makes 6-8 servings.
From “Food of Many Greek Cuisines”, by Tessa Kiros.