This Mediterranean Shrimp Stew comes together in about 30 minutes and all in one skillet – sautéed red onion, garlic and chili make up the base flavours and are then cooked in crushed tomatoes and seasoned with ground cumin & fennel. Peeled shrimp are added in the final minutes of cooking and then topped off with toasted sesame and fresh parsley. | Gluten Free + Paleo + Whole30 optional
I’ve been meaning to make this shrimp stew for ages. I found this original recipe in this gorgeous cookbook: Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan (<– an affiliate link to the book on Amazon if you want to take a look). My recipe here is only lightly adapted because the original didn’t need much changing. I just tweaked a few things to make it a little easier and possibly more accessible (no pestle & mortar and a couple less ingredients for the sake of ease).
Altogether this dish is incredibly simple. It can all be made easily in one pot or pan in under 30 minutes. Making this dish is just a matter of layering in flavours in steps at a time until you end up with a robust chili-tomato shrimp stew.
So let’s get to it!
A few things to keep in mind before you make this
What type of chili should I use?
You can play around with the type of chili you use and opt for something more suited to your spice level preferences. I used a couple of green Anaheim chilis here – they’re fairly mild in spice and easy to find where I live. If you want an extra punch to your shrimp stew you can use a jalapeno or serano peppers instead.
Fennel vs Caraway Seeds
The original recipe calls for caraway seeds but it’s not something I keep regularly stocked in my kitchen. Since it’s not an ingredient I see too often I stopped myself from going out to buy a jar of it and instead decided to reach for fennel here.
Caraway is actually known as ‘meridian fennel’ because they are so similar in flavour. Both fennel and caraway seeds are apart of the Apiaceae family along with liquorice which gives them their anise-like flavour. Feel free to use either spice here.
Can I use frozen shrimp?
Yes – you can even go about this a couple of ways.
- Cook from frozen: Make sure your shrimp is already peeled & deveined and just add them to the stewed tomatoes as you normally would with this recipe. They will take another 1-2 minutes to cook but that’s it.
- Thaw first then cook: Keep the shrimp in their package that they come in and then place that package in a bowl large enough to fit the packaged shrimp. Place the bowl in the sink and then cover with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until thawed. When the shrimp are bendable they’re thawed and ready to go.
How do I know when the shrimp is cooked through?
- If you have a meat thermometer you can check their internal temp which should be 165°F/73.8°C
- It’s much easier to just gauge the colour though: The shrimp should be pink with red tails and the flesh should be slightly opaque and a little white.
Can I make this Whole30?
- Yes. Adding a pinch of sugar to tomato sauces helps tone down the acidity and brings out its inherit sweetness. That being said, if you’re following a strict Whole30 diet which disallows sugar altogether go ahead and skip it here.
One of the things I really enjoy about this shrimp stew is how versatile you can be with how you serve it. This dish goes well with a side of crusty gluten free bread or flatbread (here’s an egg free version in case you need it) to soak up all the extra sauce.
Toss it into a simple pasta. I served this over some brown rice spaghetti but penne and fusili would also work well. Serve it with a side of spanakorizo (greek spinach and rice) for an even more filling meal.
If you’re looking for some low carb options I recommend making a side of this Mediterranean cauliflower rice or creamy mashed cauliflower to go with it.
However you make it – I hope you enjoy!
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Mediterranean Shrimp Stew
This Mediterranean Shrimp Stew comes together in about 30 minutes and all in one skillet.
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 3 cloves (1 tbsp) garlic, minced
- 2 chilies, chopped
- 15 oz (400 g) can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 cup )120 ml) water
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp fennel or caraway seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 lb (450 g) shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 1 large handful fresh parsley, chopped
- Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and chili and cook another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes, sugar, water, cumin, fennel/caraway seeds and salt. Cover and let simmer 15 minutes.
- Add the peeled shrimp to the tomato mixture making sure to fully submerge the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the shrimp if needed.
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds and chopped parsley over the top. Taste and season with more salt if needed.
- Serve over pasta, with a side of bread or over zuchini noodles, cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower for low carb options.
- Recipe lightly adapted from Zaitoun: Recipes and Stories from the Palestinian Kitchen by Yasmin Khan.
- Type of chili: You can play around with the type of chili you use and opt for something more suited to your spice level preferences. I used a couple of green Anaheim chilis. If you want an extra punch to your shrimp stew you can use a jalapeno or serano peppers instead.
- You can cook shrimp from frozen - just add another 1-3 minutes to fully cook through.
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