Gambas pil-pil: There is nothing more typical in Andalucían cookery than spicy prawns served sizzling hot with crusty bread to mop up the juices – together with a glass of chilled white wine or manzanilla, of course!
This quick and easy dish uses three classic ingredients of Spanish cookery – shellfish, garlic and olive oil. Why …. you’ll even hear sound effects as the sizzling prawns pop and splutter in the hot oil as you bring this time-honoured Andalucían dish to your table.
Maybe you’ve returned home from Andalucía and want to recreate memories of a perfect lunch under the shade of the trees in a quiet plaza. Or you dream of sitting on a sunny terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, watching the palm trees sway in the gentle breeze as the waiter serves your tapas.
Now, what could be more evocative than that?
Here´s what you need for each person:
- 10-12 large peeled prawns (uncooked) per person for a starter, or 15-17 for a light main course (gambas)
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (aceite de oliva)
- A few stems of flat-leaf parsley (perejil)
- 2 plump cloves of garlic (ajo)
- 2 teaspoons of paprika spice, adjust according to taste. Alternatively, if you can find it, use specially prepared pil-pil spice, sold at most Spanish street-markets on the spice stall. Most recipes omit this ingredient, but without it the dish lacks the classic colour and depth of flavour.
- 1 small dried hot chilli pepper
- Fresh, crusty bread or rolls
- Heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
- Peel, clean and de-vein the prawns. Wash them in cold water and dry thoroughly.
- Chop the garlic into small slices.
- Finely chop the parsley reserving some for the garnish.
- Chop the dried chilli pepper, discarding the seeds if you prefer a less fiery flavour.
- When the oven comes to temperature put the olive oil into a small ovenproof dish (use one per person), and put in the oven for 3-4 minutes or until the oil starts to bubble.
- Remove the dish or dishes from the oven, stir in the paprika powder, peppers, garlic and most of the parsley.
- Add the prawns, ensuring they are well coated with the mix.
- Return to the oven for 4-5 minutes, until the oil is bubbling vigorously and the prawns have just turned pink. Don´t overcook them as they will become rubbery.
- Garnish with remaining parsley, and serve immediately, still in the ovenproof dishes, while the oil is still bubbling.
- Serve with a well-chilled white wine and fresh crusty white bread to mop up the spicy oil.
Whilst you´re here, why not have a look at:
Patatas a lo pobre: Poor man´s potatoes
Photographs I love …. and why!
A Weekend Away: Santiago de Compostela
I’ve been looking for pil pil powder in England for years but to no avail. This of course means I have to travel back to the local market in Torre del Mar at least once a year to restock my supply.
€3 worth lasts me a year back in Blighty!
What a great excuse for returning to Torre del Mar, though, Matt! 😉
I use saffron & guindillas dried chillies, for spice & colour 🙂
Excellent. It´s the spice and colour that makes this dish, I think.
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Can I buy pil pil powder in english supermarkets
AH now then …. I don´t know the answer to that Maurice. I´m sure if you look around you might find it, but can´t say I´ve seen it in, for example, Tesco´s.
Perhaps I should open up an online Spanish herbs and spices shop?!
Mmm, sounds tasty! I’ve never eaten gambas al pil-pil, but I might have a go at making these.
Let me know how you get on!
Hi Marianne…so nice to connect with you…I appreciate your stopping by my post on Silence and “liking” it. 🙂 I definitely like this recipe…looks really yummy!!! Thanks for sharing.
You´re welcome, Vivian.
I’m sure my husband would love this. I presume Portuguese “piri piri” is the same, or very similar?
Yes, I´m sure it must be similar, Jo. 🙂
I love this dish but have never made it in the oven – great idea!
I usually put a dish per person onto a baking tray in the oven. Delicious!
Oh, this looks too delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe. 😉
It IS delicious – and easy to make, too.