I came up with this meze during Lent, which ended at the stroke of midnight April 24th. Although created for Lent (no meat or meat by-products eaten), this shrimp dish is good any tome of the year and what’s even better? It comes with a sauce that one can liberally dip the shrimp in! Another standard during Lent is Taramosalata, a dip (or as Greeks call a salad) made from whipped fish roe, oil and either bread or potatoes. The result is a creamy, airy and delicious dip that’s great for scooping-up with bread or in this instance – fried shrimp.
I loved this combo of Taramosalata and fried shrimp as it satisfies the desire for fat in the diet during Lent (or any other time). Many of you may have eaten a basket of fried shrimp at a pub or seafood house and they are usually accompanied by some tartar sauce or other egg-based sauce (like Remoulade) or just plain Mayo. No eggs here…well, just fish eggs (roe).
The batter recipe is a riff on the recipe I used for deep-fried zucchini blossoms last year and the recipe certainly works well with shrimp (or other seafood). When one fries seafood (or anything), the goal is to end up with something crispy & golden. Many batters after given some time to cool will soften and frankly become…undesirable. Either one eats the fried food immediately or suffer eating your fried food with a softened batter.
You don’t have to do either with this Tempura-like batter that contains no eggs and because of the corn starch and cold soda water, you get a crisp result each and every time. Here in Canada, Club Soda could be used, a sparkling water of your choice may be used or if you’re in Greece, a can/bottle of Souroti. To appease the Greek palate, some Ouzo is added into the batter mix along with all-purpose flour seasoned with salt, pepper and some hot paprika.
This recipe is served as a meze or appetizer and a 1lb. bag of shrimp should suffice. Fresh or frozen works here, just ensure your frozen shrimp are raw and thawed overnight in your fridge. The next day, peel the shells off, de-vein and rinse and pat-dry. That’s it…you may hear the whispers of the shrimp calling, ‘eat me..eat me’!
Crispy Fried Shrimp (Τηγανητό και τραγανό Γαρίδες)
1 lb. of medium-sized shrimp, peeled & deveined (tails left intact)
2 Tbsp. corn starch
1/2 – 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. hot paprika
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds
1 shot Ouzo
1/2 – 2/3 cup of cold soda water (sparkling)
sunflower oil for frying
wedges of lemon for garnish
- If using frozen (raw) shrimp, place in your fridge and allow to thaw overnight. The next day, peel and de-vein the shrimp (leave the tails intact for esthetics). Rinse and pat-dry and reserve. In the meantime, add your sunflower oil to a pot/skillet/deep-fryer (enough oil to come-up 2 inches) and bring up to a heat of 350-360F.
- In a large bowl, add the flour, corn starch, sesame seeds and seasoning/spices and mix with a fork. Now add the Ouzo and and slowly add the cold soda water while whisking until you’ve poured 1/2 cup. The batter should resemble a crepe batter (or thin pancake batter). Add more soda water if needed.
- Once your oil is hot, grab your shrimp by the tail (another reason to keep the tails on) and dip them in the batter and carefully place the shrimp in the hot oil. Fry until just golden and remove with a strainer/slotted spoon and deposit on a paper-lined platter. If necessary, fry in batches.
- Serve as an appetizer/meze with a side of Taramosalata, wedges of lemon and of course, some Ouzo on ice.
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