I tasted the tomato-less version of saganaki in Chalkidiki, in northern Greece, many years ago. It was prepared with the local mussels which were wonderful. But in my kitchen in Athens, as I was trying the recipe, I had to use frozen mussel since fresh ones were not readily available then, and the result wasn’t great. I decided to substitute shrimp for the mussel and I loved the dish, so I included it in my first book The Foods of Greece (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1993).
In my original recipe I gave the option of mussels or shrimp, but over the years I have decided that the shrimp’s sweetness is perfectly balanced with the lemony sauce, the herbs and the briny feta. It is a matter of taste, of course, but I definitely prefer shrimp for this soupy saganaki.