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Simplest shrimp recipes will ‘wow’ diners

I forgot how much I like shrimp.

The shellfish that I used to gobble up as a child on Oregon’s South Coast has suffered — along with so many other foodstuffs — from globalization.

Americans’ growing appetites for easy-peel, precooked, bargain-priced shrimp has created an industry of inferior products, not to mention poor working conditions abroad and unsustainable fishing and farming practices. All those factors combined have kept me, generally speaking, from enjoying shrimp for going on two decades.

I even advocated for using sustainably fished, impeccably fresh Pacific pink shrimp, instead of larger specimens, in a recent blog post for Shrimp Cocktail Salad. I still uphold that substitution, but I chose to prepare the original recipe in a recent video shoot for RoseBud Media. Visually, I wanted the “wow” factor of large shrimp, so I purchased some raw, shell-on, wild Gulf prawns at Cartwright’s seafood counter.

I demonstrated on camera how to peel and devein the shrimp, then simply poached them in some acidulated water and stirred them into a homemade cocktail sauce with sliced scallions and green olives, diced red bell pepper and fresh cilantro. And — wow! — were they good.

Proving the simplest preparations are the best, the recipe comes together so quickly that there’s no need to fret over spending extra time to peel and devein 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 scallions, tomato and fresh herbs. Although canned tomatoes are indicated, fresh certainly could be substituted if you already have them in your home garden or can find locally grown fruits at farmers markets, farm stands or locally owned grocers. And while parsley is traditional, the season’s basil also could be used to delicious effect.

These quantities yield appetizer portions meant to be shared among several people.

Tribune News Service photo

Shrimp With Feta and Tomato

16 medium raw shrimp

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 3/4 ounces scallions, including some of the green part, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

4 tablespoons chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, divided

Salt and black pepper, to taste

4 1/2 ounces feta, crumbled

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving tails intact. Heat the oil in a wide nonstick pan that has a lid and saute the scallions on medium-low heat until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Put lid on and simmer for 10 minutes or so.

Add the shrimp to pan and turn to cover all of them with sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes. Scatter in the feta, put lid back on and cook until feta just softens, for about 5 minutes, shaking pan once or twice. Serve with a good grind of pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley scattered on top, as well as some fresh, crusty bread.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From “Food From Many Greek Kitchens,” by Tessa Kiros.