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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

TAPAS FOR TWO

Brian and I can pass many happy hours in the kitchen, cooking, drinking wine, and listening to The Restaurant Guys podcast. Sometimes, though, we want a special meal but don’t have a whole lot of extra hours. That’s when we turn to garlic shrimp—or, more alluringly, gambas al ajillo—to save the evening. This dish of garlic, fruity olive oil, and succulent shrimp is satisfying beyond its uncomplicated ingredients, and it’s quick enough to whip up on a weeknight. But despite its simplicity, gambas al ajillo is quite rich, and I tend to think of it as a Saturday night pleasure. Served with a green salad, good crusty bread—the bread is imperative—and a crisp Spanish white, it anchors a meal that begs to be lingered over and savored, not scarfed down in front of Law & Order.

The olive oil is a big player here, and must be a flavorful, good-quality extra-virgin. I’m a student of the more-garlic-is-better school and use up to ten cloves. Adjust downward to your liking. If I’m feeling lazy, I slice it; otherwise, I mince. (It’s not that there’s anything improper about sliced garlic, I just prefer the look and texture of the minced.) A touch of smoked Spanish paprika adds depth and a wonderful smoky nuance to the shrimp. A word about the whole dried chiles: do not break these, as subtle warmth—not searing heat—is the desired effect. And the idea is not to fry the shrimp, but to cook them gently in the olive oil. The shrimp juices will mingle with the oil and create a luscious sauce. And that’s where the bread comes in, the perfect sponge to soak up the garlicky, oily goodness.



GAMBAS AL AJILLO

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
5-10 cloves minced garlic
3 whole dried hot chiles (or a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes)
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
¼ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant. Add the shrimp, chiles, and smoked paprika and cook just until the shrimp is pink and cooked through. Season to taste with salt and stir in the chopped parsley.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarah, enjoyed reading the "blog". The recipe sounds delicious and will try it soon ..... I guess you get your "food genes" from me. I, as you, am constantly thinking about the next meal and what I should conjure up! so much fun, especially living here in Northern California, the land of food and wine ..... Can hardly wait for your next blog
Hugs, Mom

7:05 PM  
Blogger epicurious islander said...

Hi Sarah

As you probably know by now I have been inspired by your Blog. I have set-up my own which was very easy but I am now at a total loss as to formating and color etc. Where do I go to get the help to add color etc. If you could point me in the right direction I would appreciate it. We can talk more in DC in July. Thanks again

Bob

9:36 AM  

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