Gambas al ajillo is probably the most popular tapas dish or starter in Spain, a delightful blend of flavour and texture. Here’s how to prepare it at home.
INGREDIENTS (for two)
• 100 mls extra virgin olive oil
• 4 cloves garlic (finely sliced)
• 300 gms raw prawns
• 1/2 tspn chilli flakes or four whole dried chillis
• A half lemon
• 1/ tspn pimentón (dulce)
• Chopped parsley
First, get hold of the small earthenware dishes that the prawns are usually prepared in. If they’re new, you’ll need to soak them in water overnight to “temper” them. Place them in a hot oven – it’s important that this dish is piping hot.
The prawns you use are up to you. Fresh ones aren’t easy to get on Lanzarote, but frozen ones are fine (the raw ones you see on sale in supermarkets are usually defrosted). Some prefer the smaller peeled prawns, others like larger ones they’ve peeled themselves. The important thing is to have enough defrosted prawns at hand when your start to cook.
1. Add olive oil to a pan, heat and fry the garlic. The moment it starts to turn golden, remove it with a slotted spatula and set aside in a saucer. This prevents burning.
2. Add chili and the prawns to the hot oil and cook on high heat, again until golden. Season with paprika, salt and pepper.
3. Quickly transfer the prawns and oil to the hot earthenware dishes, add the garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, a little chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Serve with chilled fino or manazanilla sherry and warm, crusty bread to mop up the excess oil.
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