Tantilizing Tapas — Sizzling Garlic Shrimp


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If you have ever been to a Spanish Tapas restaurant, than you have most like either eaten or seen someone else eating Garlic Shrimp. Also known as Gambas al Ajillo, this dish is one of the most popular tapas out there. Low in fat it’s not, but it IS quick, easy-to-make and tastes phenomenal.

So, when I was invited to a Tapas party this past weekend (which in end, I was not able to attend due to forces beyond my control), I knew this was the dish I wanted to bring.

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)

1 lb medium sized shrimp (cooked, peeled and deveined)
1 cup olive oil
7 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp hot pepper flakes
2 tbsp fresh, chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread for dipping  (I used a multi-grain loaf from Trader Joe’s)

Using a little mandolin (if you have one) slice all 7 clove of garlic very thin (see picture below). Pour olive oil into heavy skillet and add sliced garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Cover (unless you want your house to reek like garlic) and let sit for as long as you can — the longer, the better — as the oil becomes infused with the garlic.

When ready to cook, thaw your shrimp (if frozen) and rinse carefully. Pat dry the shrimp so they do not cause the oil to splash back and burn your face!

In the meantime, begin heating the oil in the pan. I generally start the heat on med-high to get the temperature up and then turn it down to med-low and let the sliced garlic simmer. The goal is get the oil nice and hot and to slighly brown the garlic — without overcooking or burning it. It takes several minutes… but watch it carefully. 

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While the garlic is cooking, you can pre-slice your bread and chop your fresh parsley…

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Once the garlic is at a desired color, carefully add the shrimp and parsley and toss them to cover with the oil and garlic-pepper flake mix. The shrimp are already cooked, so the goal is to get them hot — not to overcook them and get them rubbery!  Season with salt and pepper.

Now, I didn’t do this… but I recommend pre-heating the serving dish you will use to get it good and hot. This is how this dish is served in traditional Spanish restaurants. Obviously, handle with care when your remove it.

When the shrimp are hot, remove from heat and pour into dish and serve immediately.

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Best when eaten while hot… use the bread to sop up the garlic and oil and stuff your face!

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Let it be said that this dish is best when shared… as you WILL have ridiculously bad breath for quite a few days after!!!

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