Gambas al Ajillo is an outstanding tapas recipe from Spain, and a favorite of tapas bars in the Americas. The depth of flavor from garlic and olive oil creates an extraordinary delight. Eat with crusty bread and Sangria!

Gambas al Ajillo

Garlicky Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 4
  • 1/2 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on how hot you want it
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  1. Heat oil in skillet. Add the minced garlic, bay leaf and red pepper flakes and stir one minute or until fragrant and garlic is slightly softened.
  2. Add shrimp and stir until just cooked through, about 3 minutes--be careful not to overcook! You just want the shrimp opaque and still crunchy/tender.
  3. Sprinkle with parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. You can also use precooked, shelled and de-veined shrimp, but cook garlic slightly longer and toss shrimp only enough to heat through.
This is a savory Spanish tapas dish you will find all over Spain, from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean.

Tapas bars serve Gambas al Ajillo from drizzly, atmospheric Santiago de Compostela in northwest Galicia all the way to the romantic Santa Cruz barrio in sunny Seville. It is normally cooked in the oven in "Cazuelas," clay dishes, but can easily be prepared in the frying pan (better on a gas stove than electric). You can use small "gambas", shrimp or large king prawns in this tapas dish.

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