Paprika Gambas al Ajillo
More than a few of my friends should really start their own cooking blogs.
Not that anyone thinks they have enough time for that (and they’re right; no one does!), but I mean they are totally qualified, especially since the qualifications include: love food; make a lot of it pretty well (or a little of it very well); own a camera.
My point is, I sometimes feel it’s a fluke that I ended up creating a food blog while certain other people haven’t. (Yet?) A fluke that is no doubt related to all of that unstructured time I’ve been busy enjoying as a grad student (whereas other people— “real people,” as I call them— tend to have jobs). I’m sure there’s a relevant PhD comic for this somewhere.
Since I started this blog, I’ve gotten so much inspiration and wisdom from various friends who could show me up in the kitchen if they wanted to. I can’t count the number of times I’ve called my younger sister for baking advice. I’ve learned the most, though, not from correspondence but from cooking together with others.
This spring my friend Emilie visited and she shared her sourdough starter tips with Paula, reminded me of the glorious existence of soft-boiled eggs (so much simpler to make than poached eggs!), and brought Magic Sauce into our lives.
Emilie had fallen in love with Heidi Swanson’s magic sauce—a recipe I’d checked out several times on her blog 101 cookbooks, but had never tried making before. The paprika-laced olive oil concoction with lemon, garlic, and fresh herbs is so red and bursting with an almost fruity flavor that when Emilie whipped up a batch on my stove and I dipped some of Paula’s homemade bread into it, I incorrectly assumed it contained tomato paste.
The magic sauce was delectable drizzled over some pan-seared halibut (also prepared by Emilie, after we realized we’d each recently made it our mission to cook and eat more fish). It was also amazing sopped up with fresh bread.
It just took the one meal to convert us; that sauce has stuck around. (Minus the bay leaf.)
This paprika garlic shrimp recipe came about from a tapas party we threw back in May. I made sangria and gazpacho soup. Paula baked a ton of baguettes, and we made magic sauce (and aioli) to dip them in. In addition to our mostly vegetarian fare, I also wanted to serve at least one chicken or seafood dish and immediately thought of Gambas al Ajillo (grilled shrimp with garlic), which is just about the easiest Spanish seafood dish there is to make.
I put two and two together and traded a super garlicky Gambas al Ajillo for something a little more colorful, herby, and peppery: this magic sauce-inspired paprika version with rosemary.
The bright and smoky shrimp sauce skips the fresh oregano and thyme—in case you don’t always keep as many fresh herbs around your house as Heidi Swanson does—in favor of rosemary along with a touch of cayenne pepper and a pinch of saffron.
It takes just minutes to cook, and is my new favorite way to prepare shrimp at home. The shrimp were a hit as finger food appetizers at our tapas party (that’s why I chose tail-on), and each time I’ve made them since, Paula and I have devoured the entire batch ourselves for dinner.
So the give and take of recipe influence and inspiration goes from food blogs to friends and back again.
Print this recipe. (PDF)
Paprika Gambas al Ajillo
(Inspired by Magic Sauce from the blog 101 Cookbooks.)
(Serves 8-10 as an appetizer; serves 2-4 as part of a meal)
~ 12-14 oz. medium shrimp (preferably tail-on)
~ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
~ 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 tsp. paprika
~ 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, diced
~ several strands of saffron, diced
~ pinch of cayenne
~ pinch of sea salt
~ 1-2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (to taste)
How to make it:
1. Defrost shrimp if necessary, and pat completely dry with kitchen towels. Combine the garlic, paprika, rosemary, saffron, cayenne, and sea salt in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil over medium-high in a large skillet. Once the oil is warm, add the garlic, paprika, rosemary, saffron, cayenne, and sea salt. Mix well and cook for 30 seconds, then add the shrimp.
3. Stir to coat shrimp in the seasonings, then cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side (or, for pre-cooked shrimp, about a minute total, or to warm through). Be careful not to overcook the shrimp.
4. Once cooked, add the fresh lemon juice, then transfer to a serving dish—along with all remaining sauce—and serve immediately with bread to dip in the extra sauce.
Print this recipe! (PDF)
Related recipe posts:
|Pan Catalán (Pan con Tomate)||Gazpacho Soup||Tapas Party: Sangria and Papas Bravas||Pain à l’Ancienne Baguettes|