Gambas al Ajillo

A traditional Spanish tapa, these gambas make for an interactive appetizer with guests gathered around the cast iron stealing a shrimp here, sopping up sauce there. Best served at an intimate dinner table with folks you know well as a tentative, nay, shrimpy diner is certain to lose out to those more brazen (or crusty).


Gambas Al Ajillo

Gambas al Ajillo 

Serves 4-6 as an appetizer

1lb shelled and deveined large shrimp, tails intact 

6 cloves garlic - 5 thinly sliced, 1 minced

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + extra 

2 small sweet peppers, seeded and minced 

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 tsp red chili flakes 

1 TB dry sherry 

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Kosher salt 

 Crusty bread, lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled 


Toss the shrimp with a hefty pinch of salt and set aside. Heat oil on medium-low and add garlic chips, stirring constantly until they just start to brown – about 6 minutes. Stir in chili flakes and fry until fragrant – about 30 seconds. Add sweet peppers and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute until beginning to soften but not soft. Add shrimp to the oil mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes, until just turning pink. Take off the heat, stir in sherry and lemon zest, and allow to stand for a few minutes, stirring frequently until the shrimp is cooked through. Serve immediately in the skillet with charred crusty bread. 

Kate Gremillion