Turning Filipino: Greek Prawn Saganaki with Kesong PutiJuly 9, 2016
It’s not everyday that you find Greek and Filipino cuisine represented in one dish. Practically opposites on a flavor spectrum, Greek cuisine thrives on Mediterranean flavors that focus on fresh herbs and clean flavors, while Filipino cuisine balances its Western influences and its Asian roots. Despite these differences, we find a sweet spot on the overlap between both cuisines. Undoubtedly, both are heavily rooted in fishing culture, as both countries are surrounded by various bodies of water. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that our Greek-Filipino dish features seafood.
Saganaki, in Greek cuisine, refers to any dish prepared in a small frying pan—the term is a diminutive of the word sagani, which is the name of a small two-handled frying pan. The most popular variant of this dish is a crisp, fried slice of cheese. Typically made with Grecian cheese, the Greeks also have a seafood variation on the dish. Traditional seafood saganaki is made with either shrimp or mussels cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with chunks of cheese.
Our Prawn Saganaki doesn’t deviate too much on the original Greek version, except for the cheese. Substituting kesong puti in lieu of locally available Grecian cheeses, such as halloumi and feta, makes for a milder variant that dials down the sharpness you would expect from feta and adds an unctuous texture to the dish. Next time you come across freshly caught prawns in your market, turn it into this Greek inspired dish!
Prawn Saganaki with Kesong Puti
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes (10 min prep / 20 min cooking / 1 hr marinade)
- 600g tiger or king prawns, shelled and deveined
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 lemon, zested
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 1 can stewed tomatoes
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter
- 120g kesong puti, broken into chunks
- salt and pepper, for seasoning
- Marinate the prawns with thyme, garlic, lemon zest, and olive oil for at least an hour or overnight.
- In a sauté pan, sear the prawns for 2–3 minutes until these are no longer translucent. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Using the same pan, add the onion and cook until soft, de-glaze the pan with tomatoes. Reduce and add the stock. Cook until ⅓ of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add butter and the prawns in the reduction. Sprinkle cheese and herbs on top
- Garnish with lemon wedges, bread, and salad on the side.