Make This: Spanish Shrimp in Olive Oil (Gambas al Ajillo)

It’s been a long time since I did a country focused post.  I needed to explore a new cuisine I’ve never made (or tried) before.  I asked a friend which country I should focus on this time and she came up with Spain!  So over this last month, I focused on making and trying out several Spanish recipes.  Today, I am going to share my favorite of the bunch, a tapas recipe featuring Spanish Shrimp in Olive Oil (Gambas al Ajillo).

This dish is best served alongside some crusty bread (I sopped up this dish with a Rosemary & Olive Oil loaf).  This dish was so amazingly good, it got Matthew Lucifer’s paw of approval.  He does not like to eat human food often, so it always surprises me when he discovers a dish he likes.  [Although, the boy does love him some sugar.]

Apparently, he loves shrimp.  Who knew?  He won’t eat pork in any way shape or form.  For the longest time, I thought he might be Jewish…until he inhaled all of that shrimp. (Disclosure: Pics below are not from this latest taste test.)

I found this recipe on Food & Wine. I have to say that this recipe is going to be an absolute keeper in my recipe book.

Some modifications…if you can get fresh shrimp…great!  But if you can’t, purchase frozen shrimp with the tails (I used frozen for this recipe).  Also, make your life a little easier by making sure you purchase the shrimp already shelled and deveined.

About Olive Oil

Make sure that you use high quality extra virgin olive oil for this recipe.  It seems like there is a widespread epidemic where it is becoming more and more difficult to find real olive oil in America.  I tried a brand from California for this recipe, but it is nothing like a good 100% Italian olive oil.

For those who don’t know, there are a lot of fake olive oils on the market.  Read the back of the label.  Sometimes you’ll find that there are several different types of oils in that “olive oil” packaging, plus food coloring.  That is not olive oil.  It is fake olive oil.  The Italian Mafia have been sending over a lot of fake olive oil and selling it on the US market to even the most well known food distributors in America, passing it off as if it is the real thing.  Many of the major name brands are guilty of being fakes.  It’s a billion dollar con.

The only legit olive oil I’ve been able to find is at the olive bar at my local Food Emporium in Manhattan.  I usually put a few olives in the container and then ladle up as much of the olive oil as I can.  Weird, I know.  Other good places to get olive oil are shops that specialize in olive oil.  That way you can sample the olive oil before you purchase.

According to this article, if you find olive oil from Australia or Chile, buy it.  They are the most stringent countries putting out the best and purest extra virgin olive oil.

Print Recipe
Spanish Shrimp in Olive Oil (Gambas al Ajillo)
This recipe is originally from Food & Wine.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Spanish
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Spanish
  1. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a cast iron skillet, combine garlic and olive oil, cooking over moderately LOW heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is very fragrant and just starts to turn brown (8-10 minutes). Add chile and cook, stirring until fragrant (15-30 seconds).
  3. Add shrimp to the skillet, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink (5 minutes). Stir in parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from heat. Let stand until shrimp is cooked through (3-5 minutes). Serve in the skillet with crusty bread.
Recipe Notes

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