I was in my late 20’s the first time I went to Spain. I remember crossing the border from France onto Spanish soil and the flood of emotion I felt. It was as if I was coming home. But, I had never been there before… It was a surreal experience and I knew right then that I would be back.
I fell in love with Spain. The food, the history, the culture… all of it. I had been studying Spain and Latin America since I was 14 years old. I had a degree in Iberian & Latin American studies (don’t ask me what to do with it), but I had never set foot in Spain. (I did the study abroad program in Guadalajara, México) It was over a decade in the making to be able to finally experience everything I had read in books.
Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was eat. No surprise there… The food was everywhere! Hams hanging in windows, cheese shops, sandwich shops (where I would get my favorite tortilla española on crusty bread) gambas al ajillo or garlic shrimp on every menu and let’s not forget thick, decadent cups of hot chocolate served with churros for dunking.
This shrimp dish is super easy to make and quick. It’s garlicky and delicious, with just a little bit of heat. There are so many tapas to choose from, it’s nearly impossible to narrow it down to just one. But I always gravitate toward seafood, especially shrimp. The fact that it’s on the plate in about 10 minutes is a bonus. It’s perfect for summer BBQ’s when you need a little something to pick on with a glass of wine or you can increase the portion and have it for dinner with a hunk of crusty bread for soaking up all the delicious juices.
A meal of small plates is ideal for me. It gives me the chance to try 5 or 6 different things instead of having to commit to one large plate. Gather a few friends and have a tapas dinner party! Everyone brings something different to share, make 1 dish and eat LOTS more…
- 1/2 lb. raw shrimp, tail-on
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/4 c. Spanish olive oil (I used arbequina olive oil)
- 1 TB. unsalted butter
- 1/8 c. dry Spanish sherry (or dry white wine)
- pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 TB chopped fresh parsley
- pinch of salt & pepper
- In a medium saute pan, combine olive oil and butter over medium low heat. When butter has melted, add garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1 - 2 minutes)
- Turn heat up to medium/medium high and add shrimp, salt & pepper. Cook shrimp until it is bright pink, 2 - 3 minutes per side for medium shrimp. Remove shrimp & garlic.
- Add sherry (or white wine) and chili flakes, swirl around and let the wine cook out for a minute or two, add shrimp & garlic back in and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle parsley over top & serve immediately.