This is without doubt one of my favorite meals. I first had Spanish style garlic shrimp many years ago in a Spanish restaurant in the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ and have maintained an abiding love for them ever since.
The classic version is simpler, but (and I wince at the immodesty here) I honestly think this version is a superior expression. It doesn’t stray into heterodoxy; it simply brings in a few more authentic flavors from the palette of Spanish cuisine. The resulting combination of flavors not only infuses the shrimp, but creates a sauce that is delicious almost beyond the range of mortal words to describe. It is the sauce that crusty bread was put on this earth to absorb.
BTW, a recipe for the classic version can be found in The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas (if you don’t own it, I strongly suggest you consider adding it to your collection right away. It’s a brilliant book; comprehensive and an absolute delight to read.)
To make up for my apostasy, I send the talented Ms Casas a deep bow and a courtly kiss on the hand, and a humble request that she try this version just once. The truth is in the tasting, que no?
Here’s a photo of the Spanish Style Garlic Shrimp With Capers below which were originally made as part of our special Hand to Mouth Series that focused on the joys of shrimp.
3 Tbsp olive oil (a full-flavored Spanish olive oil is best)
1 large bay leaf
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp small capers
1 Tbsp brandy
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (dry well on paper towels)
(watch our video which shows how to easily peel, process, and devein shrimp)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (see Cook’s Note)
1/2 tsp sweet paprika
2 Tbsp minced parsley
Sea salt, if needed
In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and the bay leaf over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for a minute or so until just softened.
Add the pepper flakes, the capers, and the brandy, and cook off the alcohol for a minute. Turn heat to medium-high and toss in the shrimp, stirring quickly to cook them evenly.
Cook the shrimp until opaque and just firm.
Remove from heat, stir in the paprikas and the parsley. Taste for salt. Serve immediately with warm crusty peasant bread for dipping. Serves four as an appetizer.
Cook’s Note: Smoked paprika, with its unique and delightful flavor, is the secret ingredient of classic Spanish cuisine and is well worth seeking out. It can be found at many gourmet shops, specialty food stores, or online. Though there is no direct substitute, an equivalent amount of good quality regular paprika with 2-3 drops of mesquite smoke flavoring added can be used with good results.
You can also see our list of delicious seafood recipes, organized by type of fish to make it easier for you to find culinary inspiration and ideas.
Please join us tomorrow to find out more about our new Halloween inspired recipe with a Southern twist, Red Velvet Devil Dawg Sandwich Cookies.
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