Gambas al Ajillo
It was a very long season. We left Spain in April. The trip took us to Sicily, Athens, the Greek Islands, Istanbul, South Turkey , Thessaloniki, the Sporades and the Ionian Islands of Greece, before crossing the Ionian Sea to Italy again.
After dropping off the guests in Olbia, we did not wait long and immediately left for Spain. It would be nearly three days passage before we would arrive in Palma de Mallorca.
Can you imagine the excitement?
Going back “ home “ to Spain again. It would take us almost 3 days to reach Palma…
Everyone was dreaming of sitting down somewhere for vino and tapas.
Ah tapas.. at the bodegon, meson, cerveceria.
Tapas either are of cosas de picar, pinchos and cazuelitas.
Cosas de picar are normally cheeses,ham and sausage, omelette, bunuelos (fritters) montaditos , empanadas, bocadillos and boquerones.
Then you have the pinchos, food served on toothpicks.
The last, cazuelas are main dish food but served on smaller plates like stuffed pepper, fideua
(noodles with seafood) and are normally cooked in earthenware cooking plates.
One of the of my favourite is gambas al ajillo. Sizzling shrimps with garlic
A very simple tapa but full of flavour. I have done this few times on the boat and it has not never failed . With my fusion way of cooking I add a wee bit of ginger … Sometimes chillies.
One of the best gambas ajillo I had was somewhere a wee far from the sea, well not so far away that the shrimp is not fresh anymore. It was perhaps the mountain air and the company that made it a lot different
I was in Palma de Mallorca and was told we were going for a drive up the mountains. I have been to Mallorca few times for work and once a long weekend many years back and we stayed in Valdemossa. This time it was catching up with yachting friends and with Stephen who is finally back in Europe after a short gig in Malaysia and Florida with his boat, my travel buddy is just an hour flight away from me.
It was a sunny but cold day, winter is creeping in. Deia is on the north west coast of Mallorca. The drive towards there takes you along the rugged coastlines of the island which is a very spectacular view, adding to the fact that the next day we flew over with a helicopter with Stephen piloting.
Approaching Deia from Palma will take you to some bends with towering mountains of Serra de Tramuntana.. I was half asleep I admit, the fresh mountain air and just to be away from my own cabin was just so relaxing. But as soon I noticed the lovely colours of the village ; ochre, olive green, blue, , my senses woke me up and at the same time I was eyeing places to eat.
We parked at the end of the village and walked back. I guessed from their pace they were so hungry and just wanted to find a place to have lunch. I mentioned to Stephen that as soon as we entered the village, I noticed an outdoor restaurant with a shade covered with grape vines.
While the two of them , Stephen and Andy, went through the menu of the restaurant,( Il Xeline) I made sure that if we have the calamari and the gambas ajillos and they could order what ever else they wanted to eat.
See I am not missing gambas con ajillos… they ordered pardon pepper, some spicy longanisa, potato tuna salad… it was a long lazy lunch while soaking up some autumn sun.
We rounded up the lunch with crème catalan and a brisk walk up the hill to the village’s ancient church where it offers a spectacular view of the valley with all the olive groves all the way to the sea where fishermen cast their nets.
Here is a simple recipe how to cook gambas con ajillos.
3 to 4 cloves of garlic minced
half teaspoon of pepper flakes
500g shrimps, peeled and deveined.
2 tbsp sherry or white wine
salt . pepper
In a sauté pan or heavy frying pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic , paprika and red pepper flakes and sauté for about one minute or until they begin to brown
Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp,sherry or wine
Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink around 3 mins
Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Sprinkle with parsley.