Youll want to have plenty of bread on hand to capture the delicious pan juices from these garlicky crustaceans. This Basque tapa, called gambas al ajillo in other parts of Spain, is traditionally served at the table sizzlingpil pileandoin a little metal pan. Sherry or lemon juice is not always used, but either one adds a nice contrast to the richness of the oil and garlic. You can easily substitute squid, cut into rings 1/2 inch wide, or sea or bay scallops for the shrimp.
Gambas al-i-pebre, a variation with garlic and hot red pepper from the Albufera region of Valencia, has a more substantial sauce of rich fish stock thickened with fried bread, ground almonds and pine nuts. It is quite filling and is thus usually served as a main course. This same peppery variation was originally made with eel.
4 to 5 Tbs. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 Tbs. dry sherry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and paprika and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant. Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, lemon juice and sherry, stir well, and sauté until the shrimp turn pink and are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Spain & Portugal, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 2000).