Gambas al ajillo
Gambas al ajillo is one of the best, most famous Spanish dishes. Either serve as a starter, tapa or even main course served with rice.
To make a starter portion here’s what you need; 6 large prawns (gambas). I like to use size 2, 20-30 per kilo, they are beautifully meaty. You will also need 1-2 cloves garlic (I normally make a blend of garlic & parsley known as ajo perejil), 25 g butter and 50 ml good olive oil.
1) peel and devein the prawns. To devein them, use a sharp knife and slice down the back of the peeled prawn to reveal the dark vein, and pull it out.
2) in a shallow pan put the butter, oil, sliced garlic/ajo perejil.
3) over a low – medium heat melt the butter then add the prawns and cook on each side for approx 2 minutes. Careful not to overcook them.
4) to serve them in a traditional Spanish style, serve them in a hot terracotta dish, or other hot ovenproof dish, with fresh bread to soak up the cooking juice.
Or Try French Style with Pastis (or Cognac) and Tomato
Pastis and tomato is a well known combination in France – many Frenchmen will order it as a pre-dinner drink. Pastis, indeed any aniseed flavour, is ideal with fish. The alcohol burns off leaving a hint of the aniseed flavour rather than it being too strong. As an alternative try using Cognac exactly the same way.
As above peel and devein the prawns. Sauté them in a pan over a medium heat with a good sized knob of butter, turn them over so as to cook them evenly. Before they are fully cooked we need to add the alcohol 25ml – 50ml (Pastis or Cognac) Turn up the heat, the idea is to set fire to the alcohol. Once the alcohol has burned off add the tomato purée and mix well. Serve immediately with a nice chunk of bread.