Complete List of Recipes & Reflections

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mastic Shrimp Saganaki (Γαρίδες Σαγανάκι με Μαστίχα)

This is one of my Greek food signature dishes. I created this recipe for my wife and it is now her favourite shrimp dish. For those of you who are unfamiliar with mastic resin, have a look at my previous post about this extraordinary spice.

My Mastic Shrimps served over of a bed of rice - Click to Enlarge Image

Here in North America, the term saganaki often refers to a Greek fried cheese that is set alight to resounding shouts of “Opa!” In truth, the word saganaki refers to a single-serving frying pan with two handles. In Greece, a saganaki can be a fried cheese, or it can be a shrimp saganaki and/or a mussels saganaki, both of which are usually tomato sauce based dishes and typically include Feta cheese. If this is confusing, no worries, it’s all Greek food to me too!

Shrimps in the pan and ready for turning - Click to Enlarge Image

This particular version of my dish does not include the Feta cheese as it is meant to be a fast-friendly recipe. Easter is just around the corner and many Greeks observe the Lenten fast during this period which means dairy is a no-no. If you are not fasting, feel free to add the Feta cheese as mentioned below. You can also halve the quantities of ingredients as listed for a single serving portion. In addition, if you happen to have some good olive bread on hand, it makes for an excellent complement which allows you to mop up every last bit of this unbelievably tasty sauce.


20 - 24 large raw shrimp, shelled with tails on
2 cups strained tomato puree/sauce
2 medium sized onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, pressed or grated
1 roasted red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons masticha liqueur
¼ - ½ teaspoon ground mastic resin
½ cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper

  1. Sauté diced onions in olive oil over a medium heat until soft and translucent (3 - 5 minutes).
  2. Add garlic to the pan and stir it in well for about 30 seconds. Then, add the tomato puree/sauce to the pan, along with the diced roasted red pepper and a half cup of water, then the salt and pepper to taste and stir it well to mix. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat only slightly and allow the sauce to simmer well for 8 minutes; do not cover the pan.
  4. Add the masticha liqueur along with the ground mastic resin to the sauce and stir well to incorporate. Continue to simmer the sauce for another 2 minutes, stirring the sauce a couple more times.
  5. Quickly add the shrimp to the pan and make sure to give the pan a couple shakes to settle the shrimp well into the sauce. Cook for two minutes. Then, using a pair of tongs or a fork, quickly turn all the shrimp over and cook for another minute or so, then remove the pan from the heat for serving.
I often serve this recipe over a bed of rice and garnished with some sesame seeds. as depicted in the photo above. It is equally good with pasta, especially spaghetti or linguini noodles. Or, you can simply eat it on its own with some olive bread as already mentioned. Also, if you are not able to find the mastic liqueur, simply add another teaspoon of the mastic resin to the sauce when cooking. Lastly, a cup of crumbled Feta cheese can optionally be added to the pan just before you remove it from the heat for serving.

If you are interested in obtaining high-quality pure mastic resin or any other mastic products, drop me an email: greekgourmand[at]

Kali Orexi! (Bon Appétit),

Sam Sotiropoulos
Greek Gourmand™
Greek Food Recipes and Reflections
Copyright © 2008, Sam Sotiropoulos. All Rights Reserved.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That's an unusual way of using mastic! Delicious looking!



HoneyB said...

This looks really yummy!

Joan Nova said...

Shrimp saganaki is my absolute favorite to order in a Greek restaurant and I'm happy to see this recipe using mastic which I'd never of until I recently started seeing it on Greek blogs. I got myself a jar but haven't used it yet. Saganaki may be my first experiment. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This looks Fantastic!!

mira said...

wow! looks nice!! yum!

My Taste Heaven said...

Oh, you are a very good husband to create this for your wife. Anyway,it makes me drooling too!

AppleC said...

That looks great! We LOVE shrimp.

Salt N Turmeric said...

How sweet that you created this dish for your wife! It looks droolicious.

lilmizlynn said...

Shrimp saganaki looks yummy and seems like it is easy to make! :)

Cynthia said...

Each post, I learn something. Thank you.

Tangled Noodle said...

This looks truly marvelous and it's served just the way I like it - over rice! 8-) I'm going to read your post on mastic resin; I'd never heard of it before but this dish is worth finding out about it!

Kevin said...

I recently made a shrimp saganaki dish with a splash of ouzu that I really enjoyed. I like the sound of using the mastic in it! I am definitely going to have to see if I can find the mastic resin crystals the next time I am in Greek town.

Anonymous said...

Niiice....and it is Lenten too!

Anonymous said...

Niiice! And it is Lenten too!

pizzatherapy said...

These shrimp look totally incredible! Fantastic tastes!
albert grande

Vera Marie Badertscher said...

I am so glad to have discovered your site because of a link posted on Twitter. I love all things Greek. Last year in Athens, we ate at a little restaurant just off Syntagma Square that serves foods from the various areas of Greece, and they had mastic chicken. If I can find it somewhere, I'll need to experiment with mastic.

Ricardo said...

Looks really delicious and very balanced in colour and flavours. congratulations.. well done :)

Jessica said...

This looks delicious!

Being in Utah, I'm not sure masticha liqueur is readily available. Is there a substitute you would recommend?

Anonymous said...

This shrimp looks incredible! I love the addition of masticha liqueur! Perfect!

Gabi said...

HAH! There's a Romanian word also "Mastic".
Usually refers to a putty used to seal gaps in the communist Romania's car - The Dacia. And there were many (gaps that is)... :-)

Lovely recipe!

Gabi @ Mamaliga.

Dazy said...

I'm making this for dinner tonight. I think I'll try to shoot it, but I don't think it will be as pretty as your picture!

tasteofbeirut said...

I can't believe you use 1/2 teaspoon of mastic in your dish! Wow! Even in shawarma we don't use that much! I am sure it is delicious though or your wife would not have liked it so much :)