Love spicy, sizzling prawns? Here’s how to make them at home

Six-ingredient supper: Gambas al ajillo, prawns with garlic, chilli and olive oil

Melanie May’s Spanish style prawns in spicy garlic oil

Melanie May’s Spanish style prawns in spicy garlic oil

 

Travelling for me not only broadens the mind but it broadens the taste buds, too. I had never tried prawns before I went to Madrid, where gambas feature on the menu of every tapas bar.

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November is Food Month in The Irish Times, with food-related content in all our sections, plus reader events, competitions and exclusive content at irishtimes.com/foodmonth

It was love at first bite and now this ubiquitous tapas dish is my go-to simple supper. It is a perfect winter warmer too, as not only does the hot, spicy oil heat you up from the inside, but those typical Spanish aromas and flavours can transport you to warmer climes too.

This recipe will serve one hungry person, or make a great sharing plate when served with other tapas-style dishes.

What you’ll need and how to make it:

4 tbsp good Spanish olive oil (or any flavourful frying oil)

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 fresh bird’s eye chilli or 2 guindilla peppers, finely chopped

12-15 jumbo prawns (about half a pound), deveined, shells on

Juice of one lemon

Crusty white bread for dipping and soakage

Place the olive oil and the garlic in a wide, shallow pan over medium heat. I like to cook the garlic by placing it in the cold oil and allowing it to heat up slowly rather than putting it into hot oil. By heating it up slowly, the flavour is released into the oil and there is less chance of the garlic burning.

Keep stirring the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn. After about one minute add the chillies and keep stirring. After a further one minute add the prawns. Sauté quickly for about 2-3 minutes. When they are cooked, the prawns will curl up and turn orange.

Add the lemon juice to the pan and stir everything together.

Transfer to the warmed dish and serve with crusty white bread, which should be dunked in the flavoursome hot oil to soak up all the lovely juices.

Melanie May is a food and travel writer and blogger, melaniemay.com

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