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Gambas al ajillo

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Spanish Garlic Prawns

We readily admit to being almost addicted to gambas al ajillo – it is our first choice at the tapas bar and we can’t get enough of this delicious Spanish dish. The garlic infused oil goes wonderfully with fresh bread for a ‘dip’ once the prawns have been devoured. There are a myriad of recipes doing the rounds and every tapas bar and restaurant will have their own twist on the classic.  Here is one we have tried and tested – it is simple, straightforward and tasty so if you are planning a Spanish themed night with friends, want to impress the new neighbours or simply want to try your hand at tapas, why not give it a go.  Our advice is to have all your ingredients prepped and ready at hand because this dish cooks in minutes.


12 large raw prawns in their shells

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

100ml olive oil

3 dried Cayenne chillies (or other dried chilli)


Optional garnish: chopped parsley and a squeeze of lemon

You can cook the prawns in a frying pan, or a traditional terracotta pot (the latter can also be used for serving)


Peel the prawns, leaving their tails intact (if you are using a frying pan you can cook the prawns in their shells). Sprinkle with a little salt and set aside.

Put the olive oil, garlic and chillies in the terracotta pot or frying pan and place over a high heat. When the garlic starts to turn golden, add the prawns. Cook for 1 minute on each side, until they just turn pink (don’t overcook as they become chewy). Serve immediately in the terracotta pot. Take care not to burn yourself as the oil and the terracotta will stay hot for several minutes. Garnish with parsley if you wish.

Don’t forget the fresh crusty bread for dipping!


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