Wall Street Greek weekend content welcomes another homemade Greek recipe from Pinelopi's kitchen. This latest treasure of Greek cooking is Pinelopi's shrimp and rice pilaf recipe. Remember, we are accepting readers' Greek cooking recipes, so please feel free to send us your family's favorite. Simply email your recipe, two photos of the dish, a photo of the chef and a brief write up about the recipe, the cook and/or the person who taught you the wonderful dish to recipes @wallstreetgreek.com.
Mother told me how she caught shrimp in the sea in Greece. They came close to the shore as she waded into the water fully clothed but barefoot.
The water was so pristine that she could see her feet and the pebbles below. The shrimp began to nibble at her toes. Actually that's how she discovered their presence. Her face would light up as she reminisced and it made me wish I could have been there too. Many many years later in the same secluded spot where my mother had been, Popi (pr. paw-pi), my sister-in-law, and I waded into the sea, when suddenly I felt something biting at my toes. Popi came over and told me they were shrimp. I could not stop laughing. I guess she thought I had lost it.
I had never seen live shrimp before. They were swimming and colorless. Mother was with us on this trip. I could not wait to tell her. We laughed together like children. "You see," she kept saying, "You see." Having shared the experience of one of her famous stories, to me, was a great gift and brought me so much joy.
Shrimp and Rice Pilaf Recipe
2 cups rice
2 pounds medium sized shrimp
2 medium sized onions diced
½ cup olive oil
14 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
½ can tomato paste
2 bay leaves
Salt, pepper, oregano to taste (when pushed to tell us exactly how much, Penny estimated about 1 tablespoon salt, ½ tablespoon pepper, ¾ tablespoon dried oregano)
Parsley to decorate
2 stalks of celery
Boil the shrimp for five minutes in enough water to cover the prawns. Here is a little secret I learned from my brother-in-law Louie (God rest his soul): Drop one tablespoon of red vinegar in the water used to boil the shrimp. I'm not exactly sure why, but I believe it offsets any fishy flavor the prawns might carry while also helping the rice to fluff more.
Strain the shrimp and reserve the broth for later use.
Peel shells and devein the shrimp.
Sauté the onions and celery in olive oil until translucent.
Add crushed tomatoes to the mix.
Cook until the sauce thickens or condenses, then add salt, pepper and oregano.
Add shrimp and let the pot cook for another few minutes.
Bring the rice to a boil in the reserved shrimp broth with two bay leaves, and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked. It may be necessary to add water to the pot to finish cooking the rice.
Place the rice into a form and arrange the sauce with shrimp around and over the rice.
Decorate the plate with parsley to finish.
We serve this dish with boiled greens or a Greek salad in my house.
This shrimp and rice pilaf recipe does not traditionally include celery in most Greek homes, but mother added celery and sometimes leeks to her sauce. My nephew Felix tells me celery is good for the heart. We do not know if that is the reason mother used celery. It's something I noted growing up that other cooks did not add to their sauce. It is just not the same without the celery to me. Perhaps it is just what we come to know and the taste that signifies home and memories.
This recipe has a variation in which after cooking the sauce and shrimp, and cooking the rice, we combine the two together and serve with sprinkled parsley on top. This is what we usually do in our home, and the family likes it better this way.
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