Gambas al Ajillo
  • 8 ounces medium to large raw shrimp (31–40 size or larger)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Time Estimates

Prep time: 10 min  

Cook time: 20 min  

Total time: 30 min  


  1. A few minutes to a few hours before cooking, peel and devein the shrimp.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with a teaspoon of the salt, and let stand 1 minute, then cover with cold water and drain; repeat with the remaining salt, rinsing well and letting the shrimp drain in a colander.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to cook.
  4. Combine the oil and garlic in a medium skillet and warm over low heat until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to color.
  5. Add the shrimp and pepper flakes, turn the heat to medium, and cook until the shrimp are opaque, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  6. Add the lemon juice and serve in a shallow serving dish or in individual dishes, with crusty bread for dipping in the sauce.


Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer


1. If you can get fresh shrimp (often called prawns in the West), by all means use them; otherwise look for good-sized frozen white shrimp, which I much prefer in flavor to the prettier but blander black tiger variety.

2. Don’t be alarmed by the amount of salt in the recipe; most of it washes away, leaving behind shrimp with a cleaner flavor and a slightly firmer texture. It’s a step I always recommend with frozen shrimp, and it doesn’t hurt with fresh shrimp either.

The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook 

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From The Microbrew Lover’s Cookbook, Copyright © 2002 by Jay Harlow. Used by arrangement with Jay Harlow.

Photo: pheezy/Flickr

Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic and Red Pepper Shrimp)
One of the most basic shellfish tapas, and one of the best, is large shrimp sautéed in garlicky olive oil with a touch of hot red pepper.