Gambas al Ajillo or Garlic Shrimp is one of the best Spanish tapas ever! It’s a favorite all over Spain and is served in homes and tapas bars in practically every city in the country. It’s very easy to make and is sometimes cooked and/or served in a shallow terracotta or clay pot called a cazuela.
I originally learned to make gambas many years ago from my Spanish chef friend, Mari. Since then, I’ve tweaked what he taught me to come up with my own version. For one thing, in Spain gambas are traditionally cooked in plain olive oil but I like to use a blend of half olive oil and half butter. I find that the butter imparts a great flavor to this dish. It may not be very traditional, but it works for me! Mari also slices his garlic cloves in thin slices, but I prefer to mince my garlic. Some people add a little Spanish sweet paprika or pimentón to their gambas. I don’t usually do this (Mari didn’t), but you can if you want to. Also, more often than not, I make this dish without the alcohol at all and it turns out just fine.
Don’t forget the oh-so-important step of serving slices of fresh bread along with your gambas for sopping up the sauce! In my experience, the shrimp disappear fast whenever I make this dish, but they leave behind a bowl of garlicky sauce that is wonderful for dunking bread in. It’s a great way to extend the enjoyment of eating gambas even after the shrimp are all gone.
GAMBAS AL AJILLO
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup butter
10-14 large cloves garlic, minced or thinly sliced
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper (increase to ½ tsp. if you want it spicier)
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
3 Tbsp. minced parsley
3 Tbsp. brandy or cognac or dry sherry (optional)
french baguette bread, sliced
Heat olive oil and butter together over medium heat in a sauté pan.
Sauté garlic and crushed red pepper until garlic is cooked but still tender. Don’t let the garlic brown.
Toss in the shrimp and salt, and sauté just until shrimp turns pink.
Stir in parsley and brandy, if using. At this point, Chef Mari would shake the pan, tilting it slightly so the alcohol would catch fire. You can skip that step. Or not. Totally up to you.
Transfer to a shallow serving bowl or cazuela.
Serve immediately with slices of french bread for soaking up the sauce.
Somehow, I’d forgotten all about this recipe until now. I was looking through my recipe box for an appetizer to make and came across my recipe for these crispy little nuggets of seafoody goodness. I used to make Shrimp Toast for parties all the time when I was newly married. Finding this recipe instantly brought back memories of parties past….. a baby shower for my first born….. a birthday party where we danced all night….. lots of good times.
The name “Shrimp Toast” usually brings to mind those little triangles of fried bread with a shrimp mixture mounded on top. This recipe is different in that the bread is flattened with a rolling pin, spread with the shrimp mixture, then rolled into logs. The logs are fried until golden brown and then each log is cut into four little bite-sized rolls. One loaf of bread makes a lot of little shrimp rolls. For example, if your loaf has 15 slices of bread, you’ll end up with 60 little appetizers. It sounds like a lot, but believe me, they go fast! Everytime I make these, the little rolls are completely wiped out!
1¼ lb. raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
2 stalks green onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp. minced ginger
3 large egg whites
4 tsp. Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground white pepper
1 loaf day-old white sandwich bread
canola oil for deep-frying
Place shrimp, green onion, ginger, egg whites, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch, salt, and pepper into the workbowl of a food processor.
Process until the mixture forms a paste, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Trim the crusts from the bread.
With a rolling pin, roll each bread slice to a little less than ¼-inch thick.
Spread a layer of the shrimp mixture about ⅛-inch thick on each slice of bread, leaving about a half-inch of one side free.
Roll each bread slice into a little log and place seam side down on a plate. The shrimp mixture should squeeze out to reach the free edge as you roll. If the mixture doesn’t reach the free edge, just smear a thin layer of shrimp mixture on it and press it closed to seal.
Pour about 2 inches of oil into a wok or high-sided frying pan and heat to 350ºF.
Working with 3 or 4 rolls at a time, slide rolls into the oil and fry until golden brown.
Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Cut each roll into 4 bite-sized pieces using a serrated knife.
Serve warm with sweet-and-sour sauce or with a sweet chili sauce like Mae Ploy.
NOTE: This recipe can be prepared a day or two in advance. Just follow the recipe all the way to Step 6, then stack the rolls in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to fry. I have never tried freezing the rolls, but I can’t imagine why that wouldn’t work if you needed to make them a week or two ahead of time for some reason. If you try freezing them, post a comment and let me know how they turned out.
This is an old recipe of my Mom’s. She made it all the time for get-togethers or when we were expecting company. It’s very addictive and you’ll find yourself heading back to the appetizer table again and again for just a little bit more.
It always reminds me of my mother-in-law whom I miss terribly. She absolutely loved this mousse! When the party was over, you just knew any leftover shrimp mousse was hers. She would spread it on toast and eat shrimp mousse sandwiches for breakfast, lunch or a snack the next day. I have to say, I picked up that habit from her and on the rare occasion that we actually have leftover shrimp mousse, I find myself having a shrimp mousse sandwich for lunch the day after.
1 packet Knox unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp. cold water
1 box (8 ozs.) cream cheese
1 can Campbell’s cream of celery soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 lb. cooked small shrimp, finely chopped
1 large stalk green onion, green and white part, finely minced
1 stalk celery, finely minced (optional)
In a small bowl, dissolve the Knox gelatin in 2 tbsp. cold water and set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream cheese and celery soup over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.
Remove saucepan from heat, add in the gelatin, and stir until well-blended.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Pour into an oiled mold and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until firm.
Unmold and serve with crackers.
NOTE: You can easily turn this into “Crab Mousse” by substituting 1 pound crabmeat for the shrimp. I’ve also made it into “Seafood Mousse” by making it with ½ lb. shrimp and ½ lb. crab.
We were invited to a potluck dinner at our neighbor’s house. I remembered a recipe I had seen in the January 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine and thought it would be a good one to take for our contribution. I was right!
I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, preferring instead to use Vigo Yellow Rice to simplify things. But if you can’t get Vigo rice, I’ve given directions at the end of the recipe for making this dish with regular white rice. The dish turned out tasty and was eaten up by all the guests. It reminded me of paella…… only if you’ve ever made paella, you’ll see that this was way easier to prepare!
SHRIMP WITH LEMON-SAFFRON RICE
1 pkg. (10 oz.) Vigo yellow rice (Mahatma brand is good too)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
½ large onion, chopped
½ large green bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
1 lb. peeled and deveined large shrimp
½ cup frozen green peas
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. minced fresh oregano
2½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice
In a large pot, prepare yellow rice according to package directions.
Heat olive oil and butter in a large large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
Add shrimp to pan and cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
Stir in peas, salt, and pepper, and continue to cook just until peas are heated through.
Pour mixture over cooked rice in pot.
Add oregano and lemon juice and toss all together until well-combined.
Serve with extra lemon wedges.
NOTE: If you can’t find Vigo yellow rice, you could just as easily make this with regular white rice by following the directions below.
Instead of Step 1, cook 2 cups of white rice in a rice cooker using chicken broth in place of water.
Stir ¾ tsp. crushed saffron threads into the rice and chicken broth before turning on the rice cooker.
Continue with Steps 2-6 above.
Stir in ½ tsp. paprika; then stir in the cooked rice.