In Spain, dinner is usually served quite late, around 9.00 pm if not later. Locals, whether women, men, children or elder people, all come out to talk to friends and enjoy some tapas. Adults indulge around a glass of wine or a beer, hopping from bar to bar, eating tapas along the way.
There are many different tapas, including smoked meats, fish, seafood and vegetables, all quite strongly flavoured with garlic, chillies, Pimentón and obviously olive oil. Tapas are normally served with small pieces of bread or short thick grissini to mop up the sauce.
Gambas Pil Pil is by far my favourite and I cook quite frequently because they are so simple and barely take more then 15 minutes to make. You can serve as appetizer and I would use around 6 to 8 prawns per person or first course with a salad and some Basmati rice. This dish is extremely simple but very tasty - basically it’s sautéed prawns in good olive oil, garlic and chilli which you adapt to your liking. Traditionally it is made and served in cazuelas de barro - earthenware ramekins, but obviously any frying pan will do.
—Maria Teresa Jorge
24 to 32
medium raw prawns, preferably fresh
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
red chilli peppers (small variety)
Pimenton – Spanish Paprika – choose either spicy or hot
parsley - chopped
In This Recipe
Peel and remove the head of the prawns. You might want to keep the heads of the prawns to make a shellfish soup or stock.
Remove the black vein and rinse the prawns. Pat dry with kitchen towel. Season with salt and the Pimenton.
Divide the olive oil, garlic slices and chili peppers in 4 earthenware ramekins or put in one normal frying pan and heat over medium heat or until the oil begins to sizzle.
Cook the prawns for about 2 minutes on each side – they should turn pink and curl slightly. When the other side is done, remove from heat, add the parsley and serve immediately.
Have some sourdough bread to soak in the sauce and serve with a nice cold beer, preferably listening to some Flamenco Music.
Note: Don’t overcook the prawns otherwise they get very rubbery. If using the ramekins, bare in mind they will continue hot and the prawns continue cooking so check your timer!