Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) – Top of the Tapas

If you ever find yourself in a Spanish restaurant, and they don’t have some version of this garlic shrimp recipe on the menu, immediately get up from your table, and leave. This would be the equivalent of a French bistro that doesn’t serve steak frites. What about vegetarian Spanish restaurants and French bistros? That’s a trick question, since those aren’t a thing.

Anyway, the point here is that every Spanish restaurant serves this, and for very good reasons. It’s fast to make, gorgeous to look at, and, if you’re into garlic, one of the most delicious things you’ll ever eat. Just be sure to use nice fresh, frozen shrimp. Allow me to explain.

Unless you live in a few choice locations, it’s rare to find true fresh shrimp at the market. All they do is thaw some frozen, and put it in the case, where it sits until you buy it, which is why it really makes a lot more sense to purchase frozen. Of course, not all frozen shrimp is created equal, so I encourage you to research the best sources, but the point is you don’t want something already thawed.

Speaking of which, I thaw mine by running cold water into the bowl of frozen shrimp, let it sit for about 10 minutes, before draining, and repeating once more. After that it should be fully thawed, at which point the shrimp can be drained, and prepped.

The last tip I’ll give, is to make sure you have all your ingredients together before you head to the stove, since start to finish, this only takes minutes to complete. This is another reason it’s so great for a party, since you can prep everything ahead of time, and finish it whenever you’re ready to serve. But, whether you feature this at a party, or not, I really do hope you give this amazing Spanish garlic shrimp recipe a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 Spanish Garlic Shrimp Portions:
1 pound peeled and *deveined shrimp (look for the 21-25 per pound size or larger)
kosher salt to taste
1 teaspoon hot, smoked paprika, optional
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves peeled garlic, slice thin
2 tablespoons dry sherry wine (or white wine and a pinch of sugar)
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

* This video from Allrecipes shows how to properly devein shrimp


Unknown said...

Dam your awesome Chef ! I WIll be making this for my girlfriend this weekend!

KBO said...

G'day Chef John, Ah, you've done it again. Perfection! How do I know before I've created your recipe. Because this is almost exactly the way I do my version of this Spanish classic.
I take the trouble to hunt down some good Spanish Dry Sherry and I use a Spanish brand of Paprika Picante. Which in Tasmania is a tough job.
Only difference is I add a little salted butter to the oil.
In Spain most places will include the picante (hot) paprika; other joints will ask you.
Just like getting the best Singapore Chili Crab in Singapore; the best version of this dish is to be found in Spain but your (our) recipe is heavenly and a lot cheaper than plane fare to Madrid!
Thank you John! Cheers, BH

Alex in Shanghai said...

Can't wait to try this, looks amazing! One tip I picked up for the shrimp, is to throw a little baking soda with a pinch of salt (and red pepper flakes) in a colander or in that mixing bowel in the fridge. Gives them this gorgeous, tender snap. I hope you try it!

arwiv said...

Yep....garlic shrimp is a great, and simple, thing.

Unknown said...

Looks delish Chef John! Two questions- why do you choose the ones with the shells? Also, would you use wine or lemon to replace the Sherry if you didn't have it? Thx!

Unknown said...

Sorry I just read your comment about the Sherry

Karen said...

The bread is not in your ingredient list.

Stark Radio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

The trick question had me actually laughing out loud this morning. Thanks for the best medicine!

Gunpowder Angler said...

Chef John,What bread was used in the video? Thank you

iDa said...


another delicious and simple seafood appetizer is Portuguese
"ameijoas(clams) à Bolhão Pato".


Renzo said...

Chef, you can say "OH DIOS MIO" same to OMG.

Thank you for your great lessons,

Best Regards,

Renzo Rondon

Florida Cracker said...

Here on the Florida west coast we have access to fresh or frozen wild caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico. Do you have any health,safety or quality concerns about so much of the grocery store farm raised frozen shrimp that is sourced from Indonesia or other SE Asia areas?

Unknown said...

Perfecto!!!OMG in Spanish; Ay, Dios Mio!!!

Dora said...

I made this today. It was super easy and very delicious. Thanks for the recipe!

Unknown said...

Looks yummy. Can't wait to try it.

Ardeahem said...

This is absolutely delicious. I've made it twice, the second time using popcorn shrimp; A little less work and a little easier to spread. Smoky paprika has definitely become my favorite spice. Thanks Chef John.

Unknown said...

I made this for my family a few times now. My son likes it so much that he chose this recipe to do for a high school Spanish class project. His video is located here: https://youtu.be/RBF4WYLD_iA I hope that you don't mind.

Unknown said...

Dude, I've been watching your channel. Your recipes are amazing and so simple to make. You break everything down to basic do's and don'ts, perfect. Thank you, I'm going to use a few of these recipes for friends this month.

Mike said...

Simple and delicious. One of my all time favorites.

GeekyNerdGirl said...

This really is an absolutely fabulous recipe. I did double the amount of garlic (because we are the Neos of our own flavor Matrix ;-) plus, I have a nifty garlic slicer contraption that makes it easy to do larger quantities which I also use for your Sopa de Ajo recipe!) I started the garlic out in a cold pan with the olive oil and brought it gently up to temp to really infuse the flavor and it's totally worth the extra step and a little time. I'm impressed with how much of a difference the sherry makes because it brings out the shrimp's natural sweetness. The only thing I would change is how much smoked paprika goes in. We ADORE smoked paprika and this combo, much like the Sopa de Ajo, really benefits from a generous amount of good smoked paprika. Add a little heat, stir in some parsley, which should not be left out because it really balances the whole dish, and you have a winner! We wanted to immediately make more, even though we were stuffed to the gills.

So thank you SO much for such a wonderful recipe!