Andalucían sizzling hot spicy prawns

Gambas al pil-pil

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
  1. Heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
  2. Peel, clean and de-vein the prawns. Wash them in cold water and dry thoroughly.
  3. Chop the garlic into small slices.
  4. Finely chop the parsley reserving some for the garnish.
  5. Chop the dried chilli pepper, discarding the seeds if you prefer a less fiery flavour.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove the dish or dishes from the oven, stir in the paprika powder, peppers, garlic and most of the parsley.
  8. Add the prawns, ensuring they are well coated with the mix.
  9. 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.

17 thoughts on “Andalucían sizzling hot spicy prawns

  1. 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!

  2. Pingback: Easy No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Cookies « East of Málaga

    • 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?!

  3. 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.

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