Shrimp is so popular a seafood in America today, it is a good thing other parts of the world can offer interesting, alternative ways of preparing it. This is particularly true at a time when deep fried foods are drawing such a negative image. As with many other naturally bland foods, shrimp has always depended on spicy accompaniments to enhance its appeal--cocktail sauces and scampi-type preparations, for example. This is true of many shrimp recipes from foreign lands.

Garithes Youvetsiis a Greek specialty that translates roughly to “shrimp in a pot with feta cheese.” The cheese, of course, is strongly flavored, but seven seasonings, as well as white wine, honey and ripe tomatoes are important in the flavor profile. The seasonings--onion and garlic, ground cumin, both black and red pepper, oregano and parsley--offer a nice blending of the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Jumping to India, we findMasala Jheengari--a shrimp preparation which is said to be one of the most popular seafood dishes in that country, especially in the North. The shrimp comes in a rich, brown sauce, which most Americans would find akin to curry. The termmasalais given to any of many different spice blends in India, some of which are quite similar to what we call curry powder. This recipe calls for the three basics of curry--cumin, coriander seeds and turmeric, abetted by a dash of fiery red pepper. Onion and garlic give the sauce its savoriness and paprika a tinge of red in its brownish hue. Then, for an interesting surprise, there is a shower of toasted poppy seeds.

Camaronesis the name for shrimp in Latin America, andescabecheis the colorful, highly flavored Latin American-style shrimp preparation method. A typical recipe calls for sautéing the shrimp in oil and removing them when cooked. Into this pan go wine vinegar, bay leaves, garlic, paprika and red pepper, and the liquid is brought to a boil. After the heat is lowered, rosemary is added, and the liquid is simmered gently. This marinade is then cooled and poured over the cooked shrimp and left to work its flavor magic.

Puerto Rico givescamaronesa different approach, starring them in a spicy stew--Camarones Guisados. This brew brings ham, fresh tomatoes and potatoes to the shrimp and spices them in several ways. First, onion, garlic and chopped bell pepper are sautéed in achiote oil, oil that has been laced with Puerto Rico’s “saffron”--the red, flavorsome annatto seed. When the onion is cooked, the ham, potatoes and tomatoes are added and cooked, along with a bay leaf, oregano, capers, olives and sugar. Then, the shrimp are added and cooked. At that point, a little lime juice is added and the dish is garnished with pimento. pf

Pilot recipes for these shrimp dishes from other lands have been adapted exclusively forPrepared Foodsby the test kitchen of the American Spice Trade Association. (FR0493) 

Garithes Youvetsi 

(Greek Shrimp in a Pot, with Feta Cheese)

1/4 cup instant minced onion
1 tsp instant minced garlic
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
5 cups seeded, diced ripe tomatoes
1.5 tsps ground cumin
1.5 tsps honey
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp oregano leaves, crushed
1 tbsp parsley flakes, crushed
1.5 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

In a cup, combine onion, garlic and 0.25-cup water; let stand 10 minutes to soften. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbsps oil until hot; add onion mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, cumin, honey, salt and red and black peppers; cook over high heat, stirring frequently until most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add wine, oregano and parsley; cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Pour sauce into a 1.5 quart baking dish; top with shrimp; sprinkle with feta cheese; drizzle with remaining 2 tbsps oil. Bake until shrimp is pink, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with sliced lemon, if desired.