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gambas pil pil (shrimp & garlic tapas)

garlic shrimp

I’m a sucker for any dish that allows for bread dipping. If there’s garlic involved it’s even better. Individual servings so that I can hoard all that luscious garlicky delight for myself?

Now we’re talking!

Although this recipe comes straight from the new cookbook 500 Tapas, I make a similar version often. It’s not surprising since there are so few ingredients; the only difference are slight changes in amounts and the book version adds a chile pepper. An addition that I will keep!

The cookbook is worth the buy if you enjoy throwing together simple appetizers and tapas. With 500 recipes you can imagine that there’s something in it for everyone. I love that they offer variations on many of the recipes making it easy to tailor them to your own tastes. It would make a great gift (which is how I plan on using it).

I keep a bag of ready-to-go shrimp in my freezer since they’re so versatile and make for quick work on weeknights. I take out however much I need and rinse the shrimp in a colander under cold water until thawed. It takes just a few minutes and I can prep the other ingredients for my dish while they’re thawing.

Did you know that it’s a good idea to always purchase your shrimp and other seafood frozen? If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere that you can purchase it fresh off the boat, that’s always the best choice. When that’s not available, go for frozen when you can. The choices at your local seafood counter have very likely already been frozen and thawed and you have no control over how long it’s been sitting there. When you buy frozen, it’s highly likely that it was frozen right on the boat and the first time it will be thawed is right in your own kitchen.

This is a dish where you’ll want your mise en place ready to go. It comes together quickly and you won’t have time to do much but throw things in the pan as needed. I make this in batches at parties so there’s always a fresh bowl. Or you can triple or quadruple it and give everyone individual servings (as I did in the photos). In any case, be sure to have plenty of good, crusty bread on hand!

garlic oil


gambas pil pil (shrimp with garlic and chile)

  • 12 raw medium king prawns, peeled and deveined (I used 16 very large shrimp)
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use a high-quality olive oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (a small paring knife works well)
  • 1 1-inch piece dried red chile, seeded
  • 1 pinch paprika (a pinch is three fingers; I used smoked paprika)
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  1. Place shrimp in a bowl; sprinkle with the salt and toss. Let stand 15 minutes and pat dry.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized pan over high heat. Add the garlic and dried chile and stir. When the garlic becomes golden, add the shrimp and stir until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika and parsley for the last 30 seconds of cooking. Transfer to a serving dish with the oil and serve with bread to dunk.


Kristy Bernardo
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Monday 19th of March 2012

I am a shrimp-fanatic. I'm drooling like crazy right now! haha. Nice recipe. Just waiting for it to print out right now.

the wicked noodle

Monday 19th of March 2012

So glad you like it!!


Monday 19th of March 2012

This looks too good to pass up!

the wicked noodle

Monday 19th of March 2012

Thanks :-)


Sunday 18th of March 2012

My husband will love this! He LOoOOooOves anything shrimp! Nice recipe ;)

the wicked noodle

Monday 19th of March 2012

Thanks so much :-)

Debs @ The Spanish Wok

Monday 12th of March 2012

I love gambas pil pil, despite the fact I don't eat prawns. I just dunk in chunks of bread and mop of the oil with loads of garlic and chilli. If you can get little terracotta dishes, you cook this straight on the hob and serve to table on little wooden boards used for ham/cheese tapas.

You are welcome to join in my food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here all bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

the wicked noodle

Monday 12th of March 2012

Thanks Debs!


Thursday 8th of March 2012

bread dipping..oh yes!! 500 tapas I need to check this book out!! Great tip on the shrimp.

the wicked noodle

Thursday 8th of March 2012

Thanks girl!! xo