Firstly before we get into some mouthwatering recipes using prawns from Spain, you will see prawns referred to in two different ways across Spain.
Langostinos – These are large prawns more like what we would call king prawns or tiger prawns back in the UK.
Gambas – These are smaller prawns which are availbale in different sizes and are best compared to north Atlantic prawns, although in my opinion gambas are much tastier.
Depending on where you are in Spain and of course the time of year, these can be purchased fresh and uncooked, fresh and cooked or frozen. My local supermarket “Mercadona” sell both fresh and frozen all year around and has one of the best fish counters in the area.
Romesco with grilled prawns
Romesco sauce originates from Catalunya and it takes its name from the romesco pepper which is a bitter come sweet pepper. If you cannot find remesco then a good alternative is pimenton (paprika). Like many Spanish sauces the texture comes from thickening with ground almonds together with hazel nuts, bread crumbs and olive oil to promote a creamier texture. Romesco sauce can actually be served with any grilled seafood, fish or meat and if thinned down makes a great salad dressing.
1 kilo of large prawns or langostinos (3 to 4 dozen)
2 tablespoons of Spanish olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
For the Romesco sauce
2 tablespoons of sweet paprika (dulce)
Pinch of hot pimenton (pimenton caliente) or cayenne
1 tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 garlic cloves
12 almonds, blanched and skinned
24 hazelnuts, skinned
1 slice of bread, toasted
1 tablespoon of parsley
3 mint leaves
150 ml extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
Combine the paprika (or romesco), cayenne (or pimenton caliente), tomato, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, bread, parsley and mint in a blender or in a food processor. Blend until you have a smooth puree. Now blend in the olive oil a little at a time and then season with salt, pepper and the vinegar. The sauce should ideally be served at room temperature.
For the prawns toss them generously in olive oil and salt. Carefully thread them on skewers (if using the wooden type ensure the skewers have been soaked in cold water for around 30 minutes first). If using a charcoal grill make sure it is at a meduim heat and grill for about three or four minutes, turning once. Make sure that the prawns are cooked all the way through before serving. If you are using a griddle or grill (plancha) peel the prawns before cooking but leave the tails intact and then toss as normal in olive oil.
Push the prawns off of the skewers and arrange on a platter with a tub of the romesco sauce as a companion.
Prawns Pil Pil (Prawns Pil Pil) Recipe
Gambas Pil Pil Recipe
(Sizzling Prawn dish from Spain)
There are a few variations of Gambas Pil Pil (prawns pil pil) but the basic concept is the same. If you can try and get a few small eartenware heat proof dishes as this just adds to the autenticity of the prawns pil pil. If you don’t have any or can’t get any then don’t worry as you can cook in the gambas pil pil in a large frying pan and serve on to a large dish.
The ingredients for Gambas Pil Pil (Prawns Pil Pil):
100ml (3.5 fl oz / half a cup) of good quality olive oil (preferably Spanish olive oil)
4 garlic cloves very thinly sliced (you can crush the garlic if you prefer but personally I prefer slithers of garlic floating around in my prawns pil pil)
1 small fresh red chilli seeded and chopped (again this is a matter of choice, for additional heat leave the seeds in and thinly slice instead. I have also seen gambas pil pil made with dried chillis)
350g of raw gambas (prawns), peeled and salted (if you cannot get fresh prawns or do not like cooking with them then you can use pre-cooked prawns but adjust the cooking time so as to warm through thorougly as opposed to cooking them)
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges and bread to serve
The method for cooking prawns pil pil
Heat the olive oil in each individual earthenware dish (or the frying pan) over a high heat. Add garlic and chilli and cook for 1 to 2 mintues making sure that they do not burn. Then add the sea salt and prawns and cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes at a brisk pace. (remember to adjust timing if using pre-cooked gambas). Stir in the parsley.
Serve quickly so that the prawns are still sizzling in the cooking juices and accompany with bread and lemon wedges.