Craving a taste of Mediterranean summer amidst your usual dinner routine? Swap your chicken casserole for a vibrant culinary voyage! I'm sharing a precious secret - my mom's Prawn Pil Pil recipe. More than just a prawn dish, it's a bite of sun-soaked laughter and family warmth. Follow this recipe, and each mouthful will become a ray of sunshine, the scent a Mediterranean breeze. Unleash the magic of summertime anytime, with this prawn extravaganza!
1. Why You Will Love This Recipe
This fiery and fabulous Prawn Pil Pil recipe holds its roots in the traditional Spanish tapas and promises an explosion of flavour. Think juicy shrimp marinated in a hot, garlicky oil with a dash of sweet paprika, red pepper flakes and a hint of citrusy lemon. The taste is heavenly, spicy yet sweet, and the cooking process? A breeze! It's a dish that will leave your family and guests craving more and praising your cooking skills to the skies.
2. Using Prawns, Gambas, or Shrimps For This Recipe
The primary superstar in this recipe is the shrimp. The size, texture, and flavour of the shrimp will make a huge difference. Here, I highly recommend using the wild-caught Gulf shrimp from Snake River Farms. I personally adore these shrimps because their taste is unmatched - a wonderful sweetness with a pronounced minerality and an incredible tender texture. These shrimp are sustainably wild caught, never farmed, and free from any preservatives or chemicals, making them the perfect choice for our Prawn Pil Pil. Trust me, one bite of these Gulf shrimp and you'll be smitten!
3. Tools Needed
Before we dive into cooking, ensure you have these tools handy:
- A medium-sized skillet or frying pan.
- A wooden spoon for stirring.
- Optional: A couple of ramekins or small plates if you're serving the dish as tapas.
4. Infusing Magic with Seasoning
It's showtime! Here's where we dance with the flavors, weaving a symphony of spice, sweetness, and zest that will make our Prawn Pil Pil an unforgettable culinary delight.
- Smoked Paprika
We'll kickstart our seasoning journey with Smoked Paprika, also known as Spanish Paprika. This little Spanish secret imparts an enchanting smoky flavor to our dish that will whisk your taste buds straight to the vibrant tapas bars of Basque Country. This sweet and earthy paprika powder is what transforms a simple dish into a classic Spanish tapa, a cornerstone of the traditional Spanish dish. So, no holding back on this one!
- Parsley or Cilantro
Next, we'll add a dash of freshness with either parsley or cilantro. These herbs act like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, offering a refreshing contrast to the spicy Prawn Pil Pil. Whether you choose chopped parsley or cilantro depends entirely on your palate. I often find myself reaching for cilantro, but parsley works just as beautifully.
- Grand Marnier
Surprised? I was too when I first learned about it. But trust me, a splash of Grand Marnier, an exquisite orange-flavored liqueur, works magic in this recipe. It introduces a subtle sweetness, countering the spice and creating a delicious sauce that's simply irresistible. But that's not all - we're setting it aflame! Prepare for a flambe performance that will make cooking this dish as thrilling as eating it!
- Ginger (optional)
Thinking of a little extra zing? Then ginger is your best friend. Though not a traditional ingredient in this dish, it adds a new dimension of warmth that takes the Gambas al Pil Pil to the next level. If spicy food is your thing, don't hesitate to grate some in.
Remember, the best flavour comes from good quality ingredients, so choose the freshest prawns and finest extra virgin olive oil. You're not just cooking, you're creating memories with my mom's secret Gambas Pil Pil recipe!
5. Cooking Methods: The Art of Cooking Prawn Pil Pil
For a dish as simple and versatile as Prawn Pil Pil, there are a couple of cooking methods you can consider.
- Utilizing a Cast Iron Skillet or a Pan
Cast iron skillets are a culinary secret weapon in preparing the Prawn Pil Pil. Their ability to evenly distribute and retain heat ensures your prawns cook consistently to a golden brown, all while unlocking the best flavours of this traditional Spanish dish. Before you begin, pat your fresh prawns dry to ensure a proper sear. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat until it's hot, but not smoking, then add a glug of good quality extra virgin olive oil. The hot oil will quickly start to infuse with the garlic cloves and spices, creating a deliciously fragrant oil that's the foundation of your sauce. If a cast iron skillet isn't handy, a regular frying pan can work too. Simply adjust your heat as needed to avoid burning the oil or the prawns. Regardless of your pan of choice, remember to not crowd the prawns; laying them out in a single layer allows each one to cook evenly.
- Exploring Other Culinary Paths
If you're looking to venture into a more traditional route, cooking Prawn Pil Pil in a Spanish earthenware dish, often found in tapas bars, is a viable option. This method allows the prawns to simmer slowly, absorbing all the spices and producing an intense, deep flavour profile. Another technique to consider is baking. To do so, preheat your oven to 375°F. Arrange your fresh prawns in a single layer in an oven-safe dish, allowing each prawn to bathe evenly in the delicious sauce you've prepared. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes until they achieve a delectable golden-brown finish. Whichever method you choose, rest assured that your Prawn Pil Pil will be a testament to the rich, vibrant flavours of Spanish tapas, and an instant hit on any dinner table.
Remember, these methods aren't just for show; they're ways to make your cooking process more enjoyable and your food more delectable. You don't have to visit the Basque country to enjoy a classic Spanish tapa. With the right ingredients, tools, and methods, you can bring Spain's beloved shrimp dish right to your home kitchen!
6. Top Tips for Your Gambas Pil Pil Recipe
Embarking on the journey of making this classic Spanish tapa, the Gambas Pil Pil, can be an enriching experience. Here are some invaluable tips that will take your cooking process to the next level.
- Garlic & Chilli Preparation: Fresh garlic and chilli peppers are key ingredients in this traditional Spanish dish. When it comes to chilli, adjust the amount according to your love for spicy food. Remember, Spanish paprika and dried chilli flakes can also add a fiery kick. Slicing your garlic cloves thin will allow them to cook evenly and infuse the oil with that beloved garlic flavour.
- Cooking Process: Ensure that the prawns are laid out in a single layer in the hot oil, giving each one enough space to cook evenly. Cook them until they turn a delicious golden brown. Be vigilant during the cooking time as prawns cook in a matter of minutes and overcooking can make them tough.
- Quality of Olive Oil: The olive oil is not just a cooking medium in this recipe, it forms a part of the delicious sauce. Therefore, use extra virgin olive oil for the best flavour. The oil, infused with the flavours of garlic, chilli, and prawns, is referred to as 'the best bit' and is often mopped up with a chunk of crusty bread at tapas bars across Spain.
Remember, the true spirit of Spanish tapas lies in sharing small plates among friends and family. So, invite your loved ones, prepare this delicious Gambas Pil Pil recipe, and immerse yourself in the authentic Spanish flavour right at home. Bon appétit!
7. Storage Instructions
- In the Fridge: If you have leftovers (which I highly doubt you will!), store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- In the Freezer: Freezing isn't recommended for this recipe as the texture of the shrimp can change when thawed.
- The Best Way to Reheat This Recipe: To reheat, simply place the shrimp along with its sauce in a skillet over medium heat until it's warmed through. Avoid overheating to prevent the shrimp from becoming rubbery.
8. Complementing Side Dishes for Your Prawn Pil Pil
The Prawn Pil Pil, with its dynamic flavours of chilli, garlic, and smoked paprika, offers a unique taste experience that is only elevated by the perfect accompaniments. Here are five delectable side dish options that harmonize beautifully with the traditional Spanish dish.
This simple yet scrumptious side dish plays up the garlic flavor in your Prawn Pil Pil. Begin by heating extra virgin olive oil on medium heat in your trusty frying pan, and sauté thinly sliced garlic until golden brown. Toss in your cooked spaghetti, sprinkle a dash of sea salt and black pepper, and finish it off with a generous sprinkle of chopped parsley. The garlic-infused spaghetti serves as a delightful foil to the fiery prawns.
This tangy and fresh salad echoes the vibrant flavors of Spanish tapas bars. Begin by assembling a mix of crisp greens, roasted pepper, and crumbled goat cheese. Dress this concoction in a blend of good-quality olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. The creaminess of the goat cheese and the zesty dressing offer a refreshing contrast to the spicy Prawn Pil Pil.
There's nothing like a chunk of crusty bread to soak up the delicious sauce of your Prawn Pil Pil, but why not take it a step further? Rub toasted baguette slices with ripe tomatoes and whole garlic cloves, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little sea salt. The simple yet flavorful Pan con Tomate can turn your Prawn Pil Pil into a heartier meal.
The combination of sautéed Serrano ham and Spanish peppers is a classic Spanish tapa that adds a smoky, savory touch to your meal. In a hot frying pan with a dash of olive oil, sauté thin slices of Serrano ham and slices of red and green peppers on medium-high heat. The resulting dish pairs wonderfully with the spicy and garlicky prawns, adding another layer of complexity to your tapas spread.
The right side dishes can elevate your Prawn Pil Pil from a delicious main meal to an unforgettable Spanish feast. Remember, it's all about the harmony of flavors and the celebration of good-quality ingredients. Enjoy experimenting with these suggestions and experience the Spanish cuisine in all its glory.
Final Take Away
Creating this Prawn Pil Pil recipe is much more than simply preparing a dish—it's a journey through Spanish cuisine and its bold, vibrant flavors. Each fiery prawn, swimming in a delicious oil infused with chilli and garlic, promises a memorable taste experience. But it's the synergy of all the components—from the main dish prepared in a traditional Spanish clay pot, the perfectly curated side dishes, to the chunks of crusty bread used to mop up every last trace of the delicious sauce—that truly brings this meal to life. This recipe, which is as much about tradition as it is about innovation, is sure to bring the convivial atmosphere of Spanish tapas bars right to your dining table. Whether you're a long-time lover of Spanish food or venturing into this exciting culinary landscape for the first time, this Prawn Pil Pil recipe offers a warm, delicious, and hearty embrace from the heart of Spain. Happy cooking!
- 1 ½ lb Gulf Coast shrimp from Snake River Farms (recommended) or other large, peeled, and deveined shrimp / prawns
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil high-quality
- 4 units fresh garlic cloves finely grated
- 1 ½ teaspoon sweet Spanish smoked paprika regular paprika works too
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes for that lovely hint of spicy food
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley or cilantro finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 unit lemon queezed
- 1 ½ oz Grand Marnier
- ½ teaspoon ginger (optional)
- First, give your fresh shrimp a light pat-down with some paper towels to get rid of any excess moisture. This will help achieve that golden brown, crispy finish we all love. Then season the shrimp generously with your Kosher salt and black pepper.
- Pour your extra virgin olive oil into a good quality frying pan or medium-sized skillet. Gradually heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. This is a beloved shrimp cooking method in tapas bars across the Basque country.
- Once your oil is hot (but not smoking!), it's time to add the grated garlic, sweet Spanish paprika, and those spicy red pepper flakes. Stir this delicious sauce for about a minute using a wooden spoon. This infuses the oil with lots of garlic and chilli flavors, creating a base for our classic Spanish tapa dish.
- Carefully place your seasoned shrimp into the hot oil. Arrange them in a single layer for even cooking. Let them sizzle away for about a minute on each side or until they turn a delightful pink and are cooked through. This isn't just any garlic prawns recipe, it's your gambas al pil pil in the making!
- Next, add the sugar, lemon juice, and ginger (if using) to the skillet. Stir well to mix these ingredients into the delicious oil and spices, allowing them to fully absorb the flavors.
- Now for the pièce de résistance, add the Grand Marnier. Flambe carefully for that authentic Spanish flavor, reminiscent of traditional Spanish dishes found in the best tapas bars.
- Serve up your Prawn Pil Pil or Gambas Pil Pil immediately. You can present this traditional Spanish dish in ramekins for a classic tapas-style small plate, or simply dish them up as a main meal. To truly enjoy this, scoop up the delicious sauce with a chunk of crusty bread. Just imagine - a bite of succulent shrimp, followed by a soak of the delicious sauce and finishing with a satisfying crunch of the bread. Heaven!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Shrimp and prawns are similar types of seafood, but they have a few biological differences, including their gill structure and the way they reproduce. However, in culinary terms, the words are often used interchangeably. 'Gambas' is the Spanish word for prawns and is often used in Spanish dishes like Gambas Pil Pil.
Prawn Pil Pil, or Gambas Pil Pil, is a popular Spanish tapas dish. It features prawns (gambas) sautéed in a spicy garlic oil. The name 'Pil Pil' comes from the sizzling sound the prawns make when they're cooked in hot oil.
Gambas Pil Pil is a traditional dish from the Basque Country in Spain. It's a staple in tapas bars across the region and has gained popularity worldwide for its delicious, spicy flavour profile.
Prawn Pil Pil can be a part of a balanced diet. While it does contain olive oil which is high in fats, these are monounsaturated fats known to be beneficial for heart health. Prawns themselves are low in fat and high in protein. As with any dish, moderation is key.
Shrimp Pil Pil is simply another name for Gambas Pil Pil, where shrimp is used instead of prawns. The dish maintains the same flavourful combination of shrimp sautéed in a spicy garlic oil.