If you haven’t been to Greece yet or would like to savour some of the best flavours of Greek cuisine, we are here to take you on a journey! King Prawn Saganaki is one of the most delicious seafood recipes we’ve tried! Made with a rich, slightly sweet and tangy tomato sauce and succulent prawns, and topped with salty feta, this recipe makes an irresistible starter or a light main dish in its own right!
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What Is Prawn Saganaki and What Does It Taste Like?
Saganaki refers to the pan the dish is typically made in (a.k.a saganaki pan). It is usually a small ovenproof frying pan with a handle on each side. You have probably heard of cheese saganaki too – a wonderful classic Greek dish of fried/ grilled cheese – a staple dish served in many Greek restaurants.
Prawn Saganaki is typically prepared in the same pan, by first reducing a rich tomato sauce, then adding large raw prawns and topping everything with salty feta cheese. The dish is on the lighter side and is typically served as an appetizer with plenty of crusty bread (or flatbreads) to mop up that delicious sauce. However, it can also be served as a main course with some steamed/ boiled white rice.
Other Greek Cuisine-Inspired Recipes
We have been in love with Greek food ever since we visited Zakynthos island a few years ago. If you are too longing to go back on holiday to Greece, try some of our other recipes inspired by delicious Greek cooking, including:
- Greek Quesadilla
- Traditional Spanakopita Spiral
- Spinach Filo Pastries with Goats Cheese
- Greek Salad
- Slow Cooker Moussaka (recipe coming soon)
Ingredients and Substitutes
- olive oil: or other oil suitable for cooking on medium heat, like sunflower, vegetable or avocado oil.
- brown onion: can be substituted with a large shallot or red onion.
- garlic cloves: you may use ready-made garlic paste, but note that it is usually salted already, so don’t overseason the dish.
- sugar: caster sugar or brown sugar will work. Alternatively, use some honey or agave nectar to bring out the natural sweetness of the tomato sauce.
- dried herbs: like thyme or oregano or a mixture.
- red chilli: can be substituted with dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes) or skip it altogether if you don’t like spicy food. You can also add some sweet paprika to the sauce instead.
- tomato paste: rich concentrated tomato puree that typically comes in a tube.
- tinned chopped tomatoes: or you can make your own by squishing very ripe juicy fresh tomatoes by hand.
- dry white wine: can be substituted with water, stock or water mixed with a tablespoon of lemon or white wine vinegar (this replicates the sharpness of the wine).
- king prawns: cooked or raw, defrosted if frozen, we like to use fully prepared prawns that have been deveined and tailed.
- feta: can be substituted with Cotija cheese or a cheaper salad cheese alternative.
- parsley: finely chopped, used to garnish. You may use other fresh herbs, like dill or fresh thyme.
But Wait: Isn’t Saganaki Meant To Have Ouzo In It?
This one is up for debate! I asked my Greek friend for an opinion, and he wasn’t very clear. I am told that Greek home cooking is just like anywhere else in the world, if you have something at home, you may add it, and if you don’t, you substitute it with something else that’s available at a time.
Since ouzo is not an ingredient that most people have at home, we opted for some dry white wine. And if you fancy adding a bit of that aniseed flavour to your sauce, simply put one piece of star anise at the beginning of cooking the sauce and it will infuse with a similar aniseedy flavour.
Excited? Let’s jump into our prawn saganaki recipe!
If you’re using frozen prawns (cooked or raw) in this recipe, make sure to fully defrost them before you start. Adding frozen prawns to the sauce will not only prolong the cooking time but will also water down the rich tomato sauce.
Start by making a quick tomato sauce.
Heat plenty of olive oil in a medium oven-proof pan (like a cast iron skillet) over low-medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned.
Add the garlic, salt, a pinch of sugar, dried herbs and chilli (together with seeds if you want a spicy tomato sauce) and stir for a minute.
Tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and white wine and stir. Bring the sauce to a simmer and carry on cooking on medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half.
Reduce it to medium-low heat and add the prawns: if you’re using cooked prawns, only cook them in the sauce for 1-2 minutes, if you’re using fresh prawns, increase the time to 3-4 minutes, until fully cooked through. Taste the sauce and season with a little bit of salt and black pepper, if needed.
Preheat the grill (broiler). Take the saganaki dish off of the heat and crumble the Greek feta cheese on top. Place the dish under a hot grill for a couple of minutes until the crumbled feta starts browning on top.
Scatter the parsley on top and serve with rice or crusty sourdough bread!
Prawns and shrimps are two different crustaceans but are often used interchangeably, both in spoken language and as an ingredient in cooking. In the UK, prawns are usually bigger and meatier than shrimp. For this recipe, choose large prawns/shrimp, that have either King or Jumbo as a prefix to their name.
We highly recommend making this Prawn Saganaki fresh and aiming to make no more than you need. But if you ended up with some leftovers, store the dish in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat it in a pan. Note that reheating the prawns will further cook them, so their texture will change. Do not freeze the leftovers.
What Goes Well With Greek Prawns With Feta?
If you are serving a small portion of these Greek Prawns as an appetizer (starter), pair them with some crusty bread slices. There is nothing better than mopping up any leftover sauce with a slice of fresh homemade fresh bread.
If you are serving Saganaki Prawns as the main course, serve them on a bed of simple white rice. Some greens as a side dish will not go amiss as well (as the dish itself isn’t too high in calories). We love Tenderstem Broccoli with Lemon and Garlic, Balsamic Green Beans & Cherry Tomatoes or Courgette Ribbon Salad alongside these prawns.
Other Delicious Seafood Recipes
Don’t you just love cooking with seafood? We certainly do! Seafood cooks quickly and makes a wonderful easy but luxurious dinner within minutes. Some of our favourite recipes include:
- Squid Ink Pasta With Seafood and White Wine Sauce
- Prawn Noodle Stir-Fry
- Gambas Pil Pil (Spanish Chilli Garlic Prawns)
- Risotto al Nero | Squid Ink Risotto
- Prawn Pasta with Herbs From the Garden
Prawn Saganaki (Greek Prawns With Feta)
- Ovenproof (Frying) Pan or Cast Iron Skillet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small brown onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs like thyme or oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ red chilli finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 60 ml dry white wine
- 200 g king prawns cooked or raw, defrosted if frozen
- 100 g feta crumbled
- 1 tablespoon parsley finely chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a medium oven-proof pan (like cast iron skillet) over low-medium heat. Add the finely chopped onions and saute for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned.
- Add the garlic, salt, sugar, dried herbs and chilli and stir for a minute.
- Tip in a tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine and stir. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and carry on cooking for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced by about half.
- Add the prawns: if you're using cooked prawns, only cook them in the sauce for 1-2 minutes, if you're using raw prawns, increase the time to 3-4 minutes, until fully cooked through. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Preheat the grill (broiler). Take the saganaki dish off of the heat and crumble the feta cheese on top. Place the dish under a hot grill for 1-2 minutes until feta starts browning on top.
- Scatter the parsley on top and serve with rice or crusty sourdough bread!