Gambas al Ajillo is a classic Spanish tapas dish that is flavourful, spicy, garlicky, but most of all very simple to prepare in a matter of minutes! Served best with a side of toasted baguettes, this dish is a definite crowd-pleaser amongst all types of guests, to be enjoyed with a side of wine or beer, and most of all, good company.
The Classic Spanish Tapas
Gambas al Ajillo, namely Garlic Shrimp, is a delicious classic known for its popularity in Spain and Spanish bars all around the world. Although there are many renditions of the dish, my particular recipe has a strong note of red chilis and garlic which coats the shrimp in a heavenly aroma of flavourful spices.
As simple as this recipe is, the quality of the ingredients will make a significant difference in the overall quality of the dish. Here are some tips to help you with your preparation:
How to make Gambas al Ajillo
For this recipe, I strongly recommend using high-quality jumbo shrimp as they undergo quite a bit of shrinkage during the process of cooking. As this is the core ingredient of the dish, it’s important to retain the shape to soak all the garlicky sauces into the shrimp.
Although fresh shrimp is ideal, I normally like to purchase a giant bag of frozen jumbo white shrimp from the grocery store, to have it readily available for the times I need it.
The best thing about frozen shrimp in contrast to other meats is that it’s conveniently easy to defrost – place the appropriate portion into a bowl of cold water – and they are ready to go in just under 5 minutes!
To devein the shrimp, I recommend using a toothpick rather than butterflying it as it preserves the texture of the shrimp while preventing it from overcooking. Plus, it’s always good to avoid food wastage!
Garlic, Olive Oil and Red Chilis
All three of these ingredients are just as important to the recipe as the shrimp, as they work together to add such rich and vibrant flavors to the dish. Although some recipes call for minced garlic, I prefer to prepare them in thin slices to not overpower the dish but to give it the perfect level of aroma.
I’ve used extra virgin olive oil to coat the overall dish, and dried red chilies found at the Indian section of the local grocery store to add a spicy touch to the dish.
As a finishing touch, I add some parsley and lemon juice at the last moment, to bring some freshness to the dish. Serve with a side of toasted bread, and dip away!
This is a truly indulgent dish that’s packed with rich flavors and aromas. Hope you enjoy the recipe, it’s one of my favorites to cook when guests are over, or to satisfy that late-night craving.
I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious recipe, and please do not hesitate to leave a comment below or message me on Instagram for any questions!
Other quick dinner recipes you may like:
- 10-Minute Garlic Chili Oil Noodles
- Easy Shrimp Fried Rice
- Chinese Tomato Egg Stir Fry
- Easy Teriyaki Chicken
- Easy Shrimp Pad Thai
- 15-Minute Creamy Shrimp Pasta
Spanish Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
- 15 shelled and deveined large shrimp tails intact
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 6 dried red chilies
- 1 tbsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- toasted baguettes to serve on the side
- Season the shrimp with kosher salt and black pepper to taste and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Insert olive oil and sliced garlic into a skillet on low heat until fragrant, for about 6-8 minutes. Insert red chilies while breaking them in half to disperse the flakes, then add the shrimp. Cook until the shrimp turns pink in color, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in lemon juice and a pinch of salt and garnish with parsley flakes. Remove from heat and serve with toasted baguettes or your choice of bread on the side.