Gambas Al Ajillo - Garlic Shrimp Tapas




Introduction: Gambas Al Ajillo - Garlic Shrimp Tapas

About: I'm just a guy that likes to do stuff. Build stuff, tweak stuff, cook stuff, etc.

A classic Spanish tapa. I first encountered this in Palma de Mallorca, Spain about a million years ago. (seems like it anyway) Traditionally it is served in cazuelas which are a type of terra cotta dish and they sizzle at you while you devour them. Perfect as an appetizer but they are very, very good served as a main entree also. As an appy I usually leave just the tails on them to give the fingers something to hold on to but they are a little more elegant served skinless. The sauce is heavenly and just begs to be soaked up with a good crusty bread. I often double the sauce just to have more to sop up.

Step 1: Ingredients

Here we have the basic ingredients for this masterpiece of culinary delight.

Shrimp 1 1/2 to 2 pounds, fresh or thawed
one jalapeno pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of butter (don't skimp, you can taste the difference)
6 to 8 cloves of garlic (or more!)
4 or 5 mushrooms or 8 oz sliced
1/4 cup lemon juice (fresh if possible)
1 teaspoon paprika

Step 2: Let's Get Prepped Here

I like to get everything prepped ahead of time because once the shrimps start cooking you'll have no time to chop and measure. They only take a few minutes to cook and then they get tough and chewy if you don't get them off the heat.

Start with peeling the shrimp. They need to be peeled and deveined. I like to leave the tails on for informal appetizer parties or friends. It gives you something to grab with your fingers, but its messy at the table.

Put the little guys in the fridge while you get back to the rest.

Mince the garlic. Personally I like the chef's knife for this as the shape offers you the ability to mince without your fingers banging the board, but any sharp knife will do. First slice the cloves thinly, then scoop the slices up in a pile and chop them up fine. Once you've got them all minced, take the flat of the blade and crush them (see photo). This releases the garlic oils and adds more flavor to your sauce. Now scrape them up and put them in a bowl.

At this point I start heating the oils. Put the olive oil and the butter in a pan on medium heat. Use the widest pan you have so the shrimp aren't too layered. Single layer is best if you can. Right now you're just melting the butter and heating the oil.

On to the mushrooms. We're going to slice those up in somewhat thick slices so they don't get too mushy. Maybe a 1/4 inch or so. Set those aside in another bowl.

Mince up the jalapeno. Same as with the garlic but don't mash it. How much of the jalapeno is a call you have to make yourself. The idea here is not to make this a spicy dish, but to just to give it some kick to make it delight the taste buds. Ok, another bowl.

Measure out the paprika to have it ready.

Roll the lemon under your hand. Hard. Squish it around to loosen up the juices. Now slice it in half and squeeze out the juice into a bowl. Run the juice through a sieve or a strainer to remove the seeds. Or just pick 'em out, whichever.

Now we're done with the chores...let's get cooking.

Step 3: Let's Get Cooking

You've got your saute pan or frying pan or whatever on the burner with the butter melted in with the olive oil right? Throw in the garlic and the minced jalapeno. Let them cook just a minute to flavor the oils.

Turn the heat up to medium high and put in the mushrooms. Turn the mushrooms frequently and saute them for a few minutes. Not too long as we don't want too much of the sauce to evaporate, it's way too tasty to waste.

Now we're going to add the shrimp. Carefully, that's hot oil now. Add all the shrimp in and let them warm up  then start turning. Turn, turn turn is the song we're singing now. They start getting pink very quickly and we want them all cooking at the same rate so keep flipping the little guys around.

When they're all nicely pink remove the pan from the heat. It'll happen fairly quickly so please don't overcook. Now pour in the lemon juice and sprinkle the paprika over the shrimp. Add some salt and preferably fresh ground pepper. Mix all that up nice and easy and taste your seasonings.

Go ahead and taste another one you've earned it. Grab a hunk of bread and taste again. Just don't spoil your dinner.
If you feel the need to you can add in a little more heat. Cayenne works well as does crushed red peppers. Next time you can use more jalapeno.

Once you've got them where you want them, and I don't mean in your belly, decorate the shrimp with the parsley. Make it look pretty and serve immediately.

Step 4: Serious Grubbing

This dish cannot be truly enjoyed without some really good crusty bread (IMHO.) The choice of bread I leave to you. I personally love sourdough. French or baguettes work well also. Sliced sandwich style bread just won't cut it, trust me.

The different ways of serving this depend on the company and the setting. You can do buffet style in individual bowls or family style by just setting the pan on the table and eating right out of the pan.

I've enjoyed some really nice intimate meals that way with this being the main or sometimes even the only dish. I know, I know, its not a balanced dinner, wait, jalapenos are a vegetable aren't they?

Enjoy your meal and thank you for viewing my instructable! TTFN

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    Alright making these tonight for a tapa..ill let yew know how it turns not even going to measure the garlic lol it will be garlic with a side of shrimp


    yum when I have camarones de ajo theyre red i cant wait to try them this way..the spanish way


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I could eat these all day! You can change the heat as much as you want. Let me know how you like it.


    11 years ago on Introduction

    I LOVE Gambas al Ajillo, In fact we had it Friday night (Lent = fish on Fridays).

    I have never used Jalapenos in this dish, I normally use pepper flakes. They add heat without changing the flavor. I also add some good Spanish smoked Paprika. It elevates this dish to a level previously thought unattainable. We discovered this purely by accident one day and have not looked back since. Give it a shot.



    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I know I've looked for the Spanish smoked paprika and have not found it yet. I read somewhere that it was better. The jalapenos do add a little flavor and I like it a little better as I've tried it both ways. Thanks.