Monday, February 06, 2006

Gambas al Ajillo

Garlic prawns (Gambas al Ajillo)…

…how my mum cooks them.

Fresh from a drizzly Pyrmont growers market and the round trip to the fish markets, I picked up some glistening fresh medium kings prawns. In retro Spanish tapas style, I thought “garlic prawns”, and to cook then the way my mum always used to when it was tres soignée and cosmopolitan to serve such ethnic things for dinner parties (come to think of it, with the Bourguignonne I did the other day, maybe I’m stuck in a 70’s dinner party time warp).

For one dozen peeled, butterflied green prawns (tails intact), chop 3 big cloves of garlic (don’t crush the garlic, it must be finely chopped) and a small de-seeded red chilli. In a very high-heat-friendly dish, add this to about ¼ cup or so of olive oil with a generous pinch of salt and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Tumble the prawns through the oil and garlic and leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so. Turn on the gas full bore and place the dish directly on the heat. It should start to bubble within about 15 seconds. (If you don’t have gas it’s a good idea to take the prawns out and heat the oil mixture for a while ‘til it comes up to temperature and starts to sizzle, then put the prawns back in. This way they won’t stew.)

Stir the prawns from time to time tossing them in the hot bubbling oil until they turn electric pink and opaque and the garlic is pale and golden. Plonk straight on an industrial strength heat mat at the table and don’t burn your salivating lips on the oil. Provide lots of crusty warm bread for dunking. Don’t be offended if people take two steps back from you the next day.


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