Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp


To honor the name of this blog, I will try to post one of our traditional tapas every other week. Although, if you serve them in small portions, many of the dishes we suggest will work as a “tapa”, there are some typical tapas that are a must in every bar’s menu. “Gambas al ajillo” is one of them. An excellent example of the Spanish flavors, this simple dish will be ready in 5 minutes.



1 pound (500 grs. aprox) shrimp

6 large garlic cloves

2 cayenne peppers


2 tbsps. olive oil

finely chopped parsley



STEP 1.- Peel the shrimp. Don’t discard the shells, they have a lot of flavor and can be used in this recipe or another one (see tips).

STEP 2.- Add olive oil to skillet and set over medium heat. Cut the garlic in thin slices and add to skillet when the oil is hot (but not smoking). Turn the heat to low. Add the cayenne peppers.


STEP 3.- When the garlic starts to turn golden brown, add the shrimp. Turn the heat to medium and toss a few times so they cook evenly. Add salt to taste. When they change from transparent to white, they will be ready (3-5 minutes, depending on the size).


STEP 4.- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately, if possible in a terracotta/ clay dish (cazuela de barro).




  • You can use the shells and especially the heads to add flavor. Fry them in a pot with 1 tbsp. olive oil, squeezing the heads so they release all the substance. This will make a fantastic base for fish/seafood soups, rice or pasta dishes. You can add fish skins and bones, carrot, celery and leek to make a great seafood stock, or just use the oil to add to the garlic shrimp and enhance the flavor.
  • You can also use frozen shrimp but, if they are not thawed previously, turn the heat to medium-high or high, so the water they will release evaporates faster and doesn’t boil the shrimp instead of frying them.




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Recipe Name
Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp/ Gambas al Ajillo
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Author: SimpleTapas

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