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Colossal Shrimp in Garlic Sauce (Gambas Al Ajillo)

gambas al ajillo

New Year’s is around the corner and if you are searching for a few more simple things to serve up, either as passed appetizers, buffet style or for a more formal sit-down meal, look no further.  In these next few posts I will show you how to prepare eye-catching, flavor-forward food.  These recipes are simple, high in protein and dare I say, healthy.  The only reason one may need to adjust the knot in their belt is because they couldn’t get enough.

Shrimp In Garlic Sauce is easily one of the most popular tapas in and out of Spain.  Like most incredibly delicious and renowned dishes, quality of ingredients and simplicity in preparation are at the forefront.  Some versions contain cognac or dry sherry.  Mine does not because I do not have either stocked in my liquor cabinet and there is no need to run an errand for such a small quantity of an ingredient.  Smoked paprika or pimenton are also common, but I want nothing interfering with succulent shrimp juices and toasted garlic – just some red pepper flakes for background heat and a squeeze of lemon.  Head on shrimp give plating a dramatic effect and an extra punch of flavor.

Ingredients & Method (3 colossal shrimp per person serves 5)

  • 15 head-on colossal shrimp, peeled between head and tail only
  • 8 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 large squeezes of fresh lemon
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, stems removed, chiffonade or finely chopped
  • Salt to taste

Place canola oil in a large pan, on high heat.  Once oil is hot, add shrimp and cook until just pink on both sides, about 1 minute.  Season with salt.  Remove shrimp from pan and set aside.  Add olive oil to pan and bring to medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, add garlic, red pepper flakes and salt to taste.  Remove from heat as soon as garlic begins to brown.  This process happens very quickly and garlic can easily burn, so don’t leave the stove!  Add shrimp back to pan, season with salt to taste and a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice.  Coat the shrimp well with garlic and oil and transfer to a serving platter.  Garnish with parsley and brace yourself for all the compliments you will receive.

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