I remember eating at Dmitri’s for as long as I can remember. It was a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant in Philly that had a pretty seafood heavy menu. It’s now closed, which I’m very sad about, but that place has left a lasting impression on me. It’s certainly influenced the way I think about food. The fresh flavors, there was nothing fussy, and everything was incredibly delicious.
My order when I was younger was pretty consistent. It was the avocado citrus salad and the chicken parm. Both insanely good, and like a lot of other dishes (we will get to those soon) the salad has stuck with me. Avocado, citrus, almonds, olive oil. Insanely good. So good, I frequently make my own version and have for years. Chances are, if I’ve ever cooked for you, you’ve had a version of this salad. And this has certainly not been the only dish I’ve tried to recreate.
The other must haves were the octopus, grilled scallops and greek salad. Honestly the whole menu was a must have, but one item I didn’t have until years later, was the Shrimp Pil Pil. Ry was obsessed with it, and as soon as I had it the first time, I knew why. Lightly floured shrimp, with a chili pepper and garlic coating. It was slightly crunchy and I could never tell if it was fried or sautéed. There was the perfect amount of heat from the chili and as soon as it was brought to the table, you would shower it with fresh lemon. And then it would be immediately consumed. Like all of it. In a matter of minutes.
So, when Ry told me there was THE pil pil, the actual shrimp pil pil recipe published in the Inquirer I was obviously going to make it. For years I’d been making versions of what I thought it would be, and it came close enough, but was never spot on. You generally know when you’ve really nailed a recipe. This was never the case. Like I mentioned before, Dmitri’s has since closed, and while I would much rather have the ability to go there and eat, it is nice to have the recipe as a little keepsake. A souvenir.
If you haven’t guessed it, you’re getting a recipe for Shrimp Pil Pil. This version is grilled, since it’s summer and I like cooking outside. It has the same sauce as Dmitri’s, just without the added water, and I’m sure you can see by the photos, I’ve tried a few variations of the actual recipe. I did versions where I subbed in harissa and sriracha and also tried grilling and sautéing. Ultimately, I could go grilled or sautéed, but the imperative ingredient here is the sambal oelek. That was always the missing flavor. The sharp, vinegary, chili punch of sambal oelek, without the blinding heat of some other chili pastes, was what made it taste like the dish I had all those years ago. Brought me right back.Jump to Recipe
For years I’d been making versions of what I thought it would be, and it came close enough, but was never spot on. You generally know when you’ve really nailed a recipe. This was never the case.
Shrimp Pil Pil
- 1 tsp sambal oelek
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 small handful chopped parsley
- 1 lb fresh shrimp
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 c flour
- Pinch of salt
- Lemon wedges
- Combine your sambal oelek, garlic powder, lemon juice and parsley together. Stir to combine.
- Season shrimp with salt, toss in flour and then drizzle over the olive oil and toss again. You want to form a coating with the flour and oil. Get your shrimp grilled over high heat. Once cooked, immediately toss with the sauce in a large bowl. Keep tossing until all the sauce is absorbed.
- Serve right away with lots of fresh lemon wedges.