Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Camarones Al Ajillo (Gambas)

One of the most popular Spanish tapas - and probably the easiest to make - is the delicious "Camarones Al Ajillo" (or "Gambas" as they are called in Spain). This appetizer was originally cooked in clay pots, but one can easily use the handy stainless steel frying pan in the kitchen. There are now many variations of the dish, with chile flakes and other New World ingredients. But my favorite remains the classic recipe below. Make sure you have a nice soft loaf of bread to dip in the shrimp and garlic-infused olive oil. 'Nothing wasted here!

1 lb large shrimp (25 count - ok with larger but medium sized tastier, as they absorb the ingredients more readily)
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine or sherry
1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika (Hungarian good as well)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (Goya excellent)
Salt and pepper (some folks use white pepper instead of black for similar fish dishes.)
1 lemon for juice to pour when serving
Loaf of soft, fresh bread
PREPARATION (serves 4-6):
In very low heat, cook garlic in olive oil. Do not burn. The idea here is to have the garlic infuse the oil before you add the shrimp.
When the garlic appears very light brown, raise heat to medium-high and add the shrimp Lightly salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with 1/2 paprika. You will repeat process when you turn shrimp.
When bottom of shrimp appears pink, turn over to other side. Again salt, pepper and paprika shrimp (yes, watch the salt!)
Add/pour the wine over the shrimp and cook briskly until done.
Remove from stove and serve on warm plate. Squeeze lemon juice over shrimp.
Now grab the loaf of bread, a good bottle of wine, your friends and loved ones and enjoy! BTW, I have served this as a dinner entree over yellow rice. Works well as both appetizer and main dish.