Lake Isle Press

Sizzling Shrimp with Garlic

A young, well-travelled relative of ours, Margaret Lydecker, fell in love with this classic Spanish tapa, known as gambas al ajilla, while living in Spain. Her technique calls for letting the oil, garlic, and water “get to know one another” before adding the shrimp.

Sizzling Shrimp with Garlic


  • 2 pinches salt (preferably sea salt)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced
  • 4 ounces jumbo or large shrimp, peeled
  • Crusty bread


1. Combine the salt and 2 tablespoons water in a small dish.

2. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a small sauté pan, and heat over medium-high heat just until the garlic begins to sizzle and turn golden; don’t let it burn. Holding the lid in one hand, add the salted water with the other, and immediately clap the lid on the pan to minimize splattering.

3. After letting the liquid sizzle for 20 seconds or so, lift the lid, add the shrimp, and quickly cover again. Cook just until the shrimp turns pink and the liquid reduces, about 30 seconds, lifting the lid once more to stir the shrimp.

4. Take the sauté pan directly to the table. Use chunks of bread to scoop up the shrimp and juices. Or, with a fork, spear each bread chunk with a shrimp and dunk in the pan juices. Repeat until the shrimp are gone and the pan is wiped clean.

Cook’s Note:
*This dish cooks in a breathtakingly brief span of time, so it’s essential to read the recipe all the way through and have your ingredients at the ready before you begin.

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