Joy Of Spanish Cooking

Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)


Seafood… I love it!! We have a lot of it in Spain, and a large variety. And we have a lot of ways to cook it. Some seafood is more unique to Spain and Europe, and is difficult to find in the U.S., such as langoustines, (escamarlas in Catalan), or cuttlefish (sepia).   But one type of seafood that is not difficult to find and is common around the world is shrimp, or gambas in Español.

While the shrimp in both countries may be similar, we have different ways to prepare them and different ways to eat them. For one, in Spain, we always buy the shrimp, and cook them, with the heads attached. Here in the U.S., it is very difficult to find the shrimp with the heads on. It´s too bad because the head of the shrimp is super yummy!!! It adds a whole new dimension of flavor. Whenever I find them here, I buy them!

My family loves seafood too. One of our favorite shrimp is from Palamós. Palamos is a town on the Costa Brava on the Mediterranean Sea. Costa Brava translates to rugged coast, and is a beautiful part of Spain. Originally a fishing village, Palamos is famous for a shrimp that is very red in color. Seriously, just looking at the picture my mouth is watering.

Gamba de Palamos

I am so lucky to have grown up living so close to the Costa Brava. Last summer, I took this picture while I was walking in the Cami de Ronda, a footpath built along the Costa Brava. The picture below is between Platja d’Aro and Palamós (both are small towns along  La Costa Brava).


So for today, you guessed it, I’m cooking…  shrimp. The dish is called Gambas al ajillo (Pronounced gaam-baahs al ah-heelo, literally shrimp with garlic). Something very easy and simple. If you can’t find fresh shrimp, you can always make it with frozen shrimp. It’s great as an appetizer or you can simply make it for dinner! Just increase the recipe! 🙂

This recipe takes 10 minutes!


– 1/2 Ib shrimp

– 4 garlic cloves

– 1 tsp paprika

– 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

– salt

– pepper

– olive oil

Prepare the shrimp like you would like to cook them. You can either peel the skins from the shrimp, to incorporate more flavor into the shrimp, or you can leave them on. It’s a personal preference.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan and heat on medium. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. Cook for about 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the shrimp, the paprika, red pepper flakes and increase the heat to medium high. Sauté for about 3 minutes until the the shrimp turn pink and are cooked. It doesn’t take long! If you overcook them, they can get tough and chewy.


Transfer to a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.



It has a mild spice profile. Vary the amount of paprika and garlic to increase or decrease the level of spiciness. As you can see, this is an easy and delicious way to bring the flavors of the Mediterranean Coast into your home.

Bon profit!

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Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp with Garlic)

by Ivette time to read: 2 min
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