Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gambas al Ajillo

If you have ever been to a Spanish tapas bar, then you surely have tried the famed Gambas al Ajillo. I first encountered this dish many years ago when I was staying in Barcelona. I was young and so enchanted with my first carafe of sangria. I felt impassioned and full of wonder at everything that lay before me, both literally and figuratively. One of those blessed things that lay directly in front of me was my first plate of Gambas al Ajillo. I promptly decided that this would be a dish I would eat the rest of my life. It is simple, but so very powerful. It brings to mind those incredible monosyllabic responses cowboys use to convey everything that needs to be said with just one word.

I first found a recipe for garlic shrimp a year after my Spanish sojourn in the San Francisco Chronicle. I have adapted it slightly, but it has proven to be one of my favorite recipes over the years. It is the kind of recipe that anyone could make, and I literally mean anyone. It is just having the confidence that you could not possibly screw this one up- unless you decide to overcook the shrimp, but why would you? One of the wonderful things about this recipe is the sheer speed with this can be prepared—which is why it is a standby company dish. I have had good luck with frozen shrimp, but the most successful incarnations of this dish are with fresh shrimp. I often buy my shrimp for $2.99 (!) a pound in NYC’s Chinatown. This dish is wonderful with a simple arugula and cucumber salad and most importantly, a loaf of crusty bread to absorb the incredible pan juices. Make sure to have the freshest garlic possible, as it is one of the only ingredients, and you may want to invest in a good sherry for this one—you will use it in your repeat performances of this recipe, I promise!



Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle

Ingredients:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 pound small shrimp, shelled
2 tablespoons amontillado (medium-dry) sherry
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
salt and pepper to taste

1 baguette, slightly toasted

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings as a starter/ 2 as main course

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil with the garlic and red pepper flakes for one minute or until garlic begins to sizzle. Add the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat for two-three minutes until the shrimp turns pink. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately with a warm baguette.

Note: You may want to double all of the ingredients (except for the shrimp) if you want extra sauce for the bread.

6 comments:

Denny said...

I tried your Gambas al Ajillo dish over the weekend and it was excellent and easy...just as you predicted. Thanks for the tips...I doubled the sauce for extra dipping. My friends all raved and I gave them the address of your blog.

Please put more of your favorite dishes on your blog!

Anonymous said...

I love spicy, I love garlic, I love shrimp, so making this was a must-do. Unfortunately, the first time I made it I was disappointed by it's bland flavor and I couldn't figure out what went wrong. The next morning, I was sipping my coffee when my eyes fell on the garlic sitting on the counter. Oops. The next time I made it, I made sure to include the garlic, and it was delicious!

Rayna said...

I tried this dish and it was a little hot for me, but I am a pansy with spice! The next time I will cut the red pepper flakes in half, and let my guests add more if they like...

everyone else loved the heat-- thanks for the recipe!

Rayna said...

I tried this dish and it was a little hot for me, but I am a pansy with spice! The next time I will cut the red pepper flakes in half, and let my guests add more if they like...

everyone else loved the heat-- thanks for the recipe!

Afua said...

We've recently been day dreaming about Spain and this dish is perfect for tiding us over until we're able to go. I can't wait to try this recipe! Bring on the spice!

blair said...

I have made this dish so many times!!!! I just love it. Thanks so much for introducing it to me.