Thursday, August 27, 2009

Camarones al Ajillo: Shrimp in Garlic Sauce

Sometimes simple recipes are the best, but they are also unforgiving. With only a few ingredients, you have no chance to hide mistakes. So it is with this delicious and classic dish: You must pay attention to both the ingredients and the cooking instructions, or you will end up with tough shrimp and burnt garlic. Not good.

Having said that, there are few better meals on the planet than a quick and simple Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, and you will look like a gourmet cook to your admiring family and friends when you serve this. Go ahead and bask in the glow. If you cook this right, you will have earned the praise!

You're going to LOVE this!

Serves 2- 3

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp hot red pepper flakes
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oil and red pepper flakes in a large non-stick skillet over medium-low heat just until the oil starts to color but isn't smoking. Stir in the garlic and cook, shaking the pan, just until the garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes.

Increase the heat to high, add the shrimp, and season them with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir the shrimp until they turn pink all over. (Keep an eye on the garlic. It will get brown, but don't let it or the pepper flakes burn!If it gets too dark, lower the heat and remove the pan from the heat for a few seconds.)

When the shrimp are pink all over they are done. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon, placing them in a large bowl. Pour the sherry into the pan with the oil, garlic and pepper flakes and bring it to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the liquid has been reduced by about half and lightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley, and scrape the sauce over the shrimp in the bowl, making sure the garlic bits and pepper flakes are included. Serve immediately.

Serve with rice and a simple garden salad, or provide lots of good bread for dipping in the garlic oil.

A few notes:

1) Make sure you have all the ingredients ready to go before you actually start cooking. You don't want to be chopping parsley while your shrimp are overcooking.

2) Make sure you don't let either the garlic or the pepper flakes burn. That would make both the oil and shrimp taste bitter.

3) Make sure you use only the best ingredients you can afford. Again, such a simple recipe leaves you nowhere to hide if you screw it up.

4) You can use any size of shrimp you want, as long as it's 2 pounds worth so the recipe's proportions stay in sync. If you use smaller shrimp, the cooking time will be less so be mindful of that and watch your shrimp closely so they don't over cook. As a guide, small - medium sized shrimp will take 3 - 4 minutes, large shrimp will take 5 - 8 minutes and jumbo shrimp or prawns will need 7 - 8 minutes cooking time.

5) If you're camping on the beach in Puerto Penasco, this recipe cooks up magnificently over a campfire!

Buen provecho!

If you have a favorite recipe for a Mexican or Mexican-inspired dish, I'd love to add it to our recipe box! email (and put "recipe" in the subject box so I'll know what it's about)


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