Spaghetti with Jumbo Prawns and Tomato Sauce, Flamed with Ouzo
And for as long as I can remember the chef-de-cuisine has been, and still is, Andreas Georgiou, a veteran director of menus of countless functions: from Rotary and numerous business clubs to weddings, christenings, product launches, charity fundraisers, embassy and government bashes and lots more. I have had the pleasure to work with him over the years: cookery competitions, press lunches, small group meals and for special editorial features such as the Cyprus Gourmet’s “Cooking with Beer”.
The food was almost always good and the event well organised – with the possible exception of a somewhat ill-advised series of “Theatre Dinners”, in the 1990s where timing went awry.
In those heady days of boom, before the bust, wine importers were lavish in their promotions, organising splendid affairs to introduce new wines or producers. One such rejoiced in the name of “Gala Dinner”, in which four, five or even six courses, were matched to a specific wine. An all inclusive price covered food and drink. Le Crème de la Crème of Nicosia, Limassol and Paphos flocked to them.
I recall one such Gala Dinner at the Hilton, attended by around 100 people. The price was modest, the menu three-courses with a main dish of the most excellent roast beef, prepared to perfection by Andreas Georgiou’s team (believe me, you have to be a good chef, with good servers, to bring hot roast beef to every person on every table in peak condition). The wines were excellent, from a noted Burgundy house. We enjoyed the meal immensely and said so a day or two later to the importer. “Ah”, he said, “Thank you Patrick, but I had many complaints from Cypriots, who wanted much richer food and much more of it”.
Andreas is always courteous, obliging and efficient. Asked a week or two ago for a couple of recipes, he obliged within a few days. They look good, as befits a hotel chef’s creations, and they taste good.
The aniseed flavour of the Ouzo (or Pernod) goes incredibly well with shrimp or prawns. If you can find North Atlantic prawns these have the best flavour. 24 peeled raw jumbo Prawns, head on cook’s note) 600g cooked spaghetti 80ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil 150g chopped onions 50g chopped garlic 80ml Ouzo (or Pernod) 200g chopped tomatoes 20g chopped parsley 20g Chopped fresh basil Salt & Freshly Grounded Black Pepper
(see 1. Heat the olive oil in a non stick pan and over a moderate heat fry the prawns for a minute or so each side. 2. In the pan add onions, garlic and sauté until golden brown. 3. Flame with ouzo. Reduce juices by half. 4. Add tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook for about five minutes. 5. Remove pan from heat. 6. In a large pan, salt and boil plenty of water and cook the spaghetti in a rolling boil for 9 – 11 minutes until cooked through to your liking. 7. Drain spaghetti and form out portions into a pasta plate and add the prawn mixture. 8. Garnish with some parsley leaves. 9. Serve with a crisp, well chilled Xynisteri. If your prawns are frozen, start by de-frosting them. If you cannot find good jumbo/King Prawns, use the smaller variety of frozen cooked ones, defrost them and start the recipe at (2). Just stir in the prawns to the sauce after (5).
It is better to cook the spaghetti before or while you are cooking the sauce, because prawns must not only NOT be over-cooked, but should be served as soon as they are done.