Calliope’s Mystery Seafood
It’s a great blessing to have friends who share your interests, especially when they’re willing to share their own experience. Calliope comes from small Stomio Larissas in central Greece and is fortunate to receive regular reinforcements in the form of food parcels from her village. As the closest that I have to a home village is in Ireland, the whole process seems magical to me.
The parcel put exotic ingredients to shame. When it arrives, we have nettle risotto, all kinds of pies and the amazing Kaniokes. You see, Calliope, always generous, has moved beyond prepared dishes, and is now sharing with me raw ingredients to play with. A little like preschoolers share their playdoh. A little package with a quick tip “they’re like crayfish with almost no meat, don’t bother saving it. they just make a delicious pasta sauce.”
The biggest hurdle being of course that we have no idea what they’re called. The come by disparaging nicknames like: crazy shrimp or sand crayfish. Until I found this article by Kali Doxiades that revealed the secret: Kaniokes in Greek or canniocchia, squill or Squilla_mantis
I decided to make giouvetsi, an orzo pasta meatless casserole with their broth to accompany our fish. Next time they’ll become bisque. It is impossible to describe the taste of this dish. Every juicy bite was so full and delicious.
For the broth
- 2 tbsps Olive oil
- 800 gr. Kaniokes
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 250 ml wine
- 1 tbsp parsley stalks, finely chopped
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 200 gr. tomato, grated
- 1 liter of hot water
For the Giouvetsi
- 500 gr. Orzo pasta
- 2 tbsps Olive oil
- 300 gr. tomato, grated
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 4 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and pepper
For the broth, heat a large wide saucepan over a high heat and sauté the kaniokes with oil until they turn red, about 3′-5 ‘. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and sauté for another 5’. Add the wine and allow to evaporate. Add the parsley stalks, the bay leaf, the tomato and the hot water. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, press down on the shellfish with the potato masher to break the shells and impart more flavor to the broth. Strain by pressing well so as not to waste a drop.
For the giouvetsi, sauté the garlic in the olive oil, for 20″ and add the tomato, salt and pepper and the strained broth. Bring to the boil then allow to simmer about 15 ‘ uncovered, while boiling the orzo in salted water for half its cooking time and strain well. Add the orzo to the sauce, stir well and simmer for the remaining cooking time. Let it stand covered for a few minutes Serve with parsley and some olive oil.