Fish,  Recipes

Spanish garlic prawns: the hottest and most flavourful tapa

Hello people!

Today I have decided to take a break from comfort food recipes. We have enjoyed a wonderful weekend with plenty of sunshine, a clear sky and temperatures over 20 Celsius degrees. In summary, proper summer days despite the season is over, right? Such events deserved a meal up to the occasion and so we did on Saturday night with a proper Spanish dinner feast: tortilla de patatas and garlic prawns-or better said, the famous Gambas al ajillo.

I am sure if I asked you to name three Spanish tapas you would surely name this one. In fact, it is not restricted to a particular region of Spain, but it is as widely shared as patatas bravas or croquetas. However, what do we know about its origin? The answer is quite surprising.

It is understood the firsts Spanish garlic prawns were served in… Madrid! How it is possible when it is really far from the sea? All the existing references seem to point towards Casa del Abuelo (Grandad’s house). Established in the heart of the Spanish capital, just minutes away of Puerta del Sol, this legendary eatery began serving a dish back in the 40’s decade. Its founder’s granddaughter Natalia explains: “One morning, my grandfather Patricio found the Puerta de Toledo’s market was almost empty of stock. However, they managed to buy prawns although they were very small”.

And continues: “Back to the bar, his head chef thought that fried with garlic was the best way to make the most of them. The clients loved them and the tradition has remained ever since”.

There are no doubts that today is one of Spain’s most iconic dish-and, probably, the hottest. Outside Madrid, Cadiz and Huelva are also known to be top places to eat them as both are home of some of the best Spanish prawns. In any case, I suggest you to enjoy them next to a good piece of bread. I baked a large loaf for the occasion and it tasted even better because that oil, my dearest friends, is a dish inside a dish-and you shouldn’t leave a single drop of it.

Note this recipe is very easy to prepare and no pictures of the process are shown below. However, please do raise your concerns on this matter should you have any.


  • Coldwater prawns (150 g)
  • Garlic cloves (7)
  • Red chilli (1)
  • Olive oil (1 cup)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh parsley (optional)


  1. Cover the base of a sauce pot with the olive oil and heat up at high power. Once its hot, finely chop the chilli and fry it for two minutes.

2. Peel and finely slice all the garlic cloves and drop them to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-high and fry for three minutes.

3. After that, add your prawns and fry for no more than three minutes. You must make sure they are completely dry so drain them for a while using a strainer. Otherwise, the oil will mix with the water and will splash over you-and it’s burning as hell!

4. Serve in a little recipient next to a good piece of bread.

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