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The Hirshon Gambas al Ajillo

The Hirshon Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Sauce – Gambas al Ajillo

  • Total Time: 0 hours


Units Scale
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled, shells reserved
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes (preferred) or more to taste; red pepper flakes can be substituted
  • Pinch smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Pedro Ximenez-style cream sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh flowering thyme (preferred) or regular thyme leaves, minced


  1. Finely mince 4 garlic cloves and place in large bowl. Smash 4 cloves in a mortar and pestle to a paste with the red pepper flakes and smoked paprika and place in a large skillet. Thinly slice remaining four garlic cloves and set aside.
  2. Add shrimp to bowl with minced garlic. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, and baking soda. Toss to combine thoroughly and set aside at room temperature.
  3. Add shrimp shells to skillet with garlic/pepper/paprika paste and add remaining olive oil plus the Bay leaf. Set over medium-low to low heat and cook, stirring and tossing occasionally, until shells are deep ruby red, garlic is pale golden brown, and oil is intensely aromatic, about 10 minutes. Oil should be gently bubbling the whole time.
  4. When ready, strain through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl, tossing and pressing the shrimp shells to extract as much oil as possible. Discard shells, bay leaf and garlic.
  5. Reduce sherry in pan to about a tablespoon or two. Return flavored oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until pale golden brown, about 1 minute.
  6. Add shrimp and cook, tossing and stirring constantly until shrimp are barely cooked through, about 2 minutes. Add sherry vinegar, thyme and parsley and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt. Garnish with flowering thyme sprigs, if available. Serve immediately with bread to sop up the delicious sauce.
  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Category: Recipes


  • Calories: 345.14 kcal
  • Sugar: 0.69 g
  • Sodium: 724.23 mg
  • Fat: 28.23 g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.04 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.02 g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.32 g
  • Fiber: 0.39 g
  • Protein: 16.11 g
  • Cholesterol: 142.88 mg