Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) with Fresh Pasta

Kenji over at Serious Eats never fails to impress. I've used his recipes a bunch of times and have always been happy with the results.

This particular dish was designed to be stand-alone as a tapas style dish. Served with bread and eaten as-is. While that sounds like a fine way to consume such delicious shrimp, I really love shrimp and pasta, so I decided to toss this over fresh homemade pasta with great results. The combination of the flavorful oil and pasta worked perfectly together.

This is very garlicky, so be warned. We love garlic over here, so it's no biggie for us.

Spanish-Style Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo) with Fresh Pasta
(from here)

12 cloves garlic (divided)
1 pound large shrimp, (cooked or uncooked is fine, just make sure they're peeled and deveined)
1/2 cup good extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

To finish:
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons sliced scallions or minced parsley
1/2 to 1 pound pasta to serve (1 pound for 4 servings) - fresh pasta is better! (below)

Fresh Pasta:
300g AP flour
3 eggs
pinch of salt
dash of olive oil


I've made pasta a bunch of times. I love it so much that I try to make it a few times a month. 

I used to do everything by hand, but my laziness has gotten the better of me over time. 

Since I was making bread tonight along with this shrimp pasta, I figured I'd just do it in the mixer. 

Measure out 300 grams of flour.

Add 3 eggs, a pinch of salt and just a dash of olive oil.

Get it to mixing over low speed.

You'll see that a well is created very nicely.

Gently tap or scrape the sides until everything combines well.

It'll be shaggy.

Combine the shaggy bits together into a ball and knead, roll and cut as you would normally. I recommend a counter mounted pasta roller.

I lay my pasta on a sheet tray. No need for those pasta hanger things.

The pasta will dry out a bit before dinner, no problem.


When it's time for dinner get your garlic together.

We're going to be using 3 sets of 4 cloves.

Mince the first 4.

Add to your pound of shrimp along with 3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil, 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

I've made this twice already. Once with uncooked shrimp and once with frozen "cocktail" shrimp. Both versions ended up great. I don't think there's much of a reason to spend the extra money on uncooked shrimp.

Anyway, stir well to combine. The baking soda gives the shrimp a nice "snap" when it's heated through. Don't skip it.

Second set of cloves will be smashed.

Add the smashed garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes to the remainder of the 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan.

Cook over medium/low heat until the garlic starts to sizzle, about 10 minutes.

Don't let the heat get too aggressive here, dial it back for a slow simmer with bubbles around the edges of the garlic cloves.

Cook until the garlic is light golden brown, not dark or burned.

Strain the garlic infused oil.

Last set of garlic cloves are to be sliced.

Try to make them even for even cooking.

Get a pot of water on the boil and add your pasta.

Fresh pasta takes about 5 minutes to cook, so time accordingly.


Meanwhile, return the garlic oil to the pan over medium heat.

Add your sliced garlic.

Cook until just starting to get light brown around the edges.

Should only be a couple of minutes.

Add the shrimp.

Cook for only 1 minute, if frozen - about 3-4 minutes if uncooked. You want to heat the shrimp through, not over-cook them.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of sherry vinegar.

Transfer the cooked pasta directly from the pot of boiling water to the pan. 

Drop the heat in the pan to low.

Once transferred, give it a good stir to combine.

Top with some sliced scallions.


Overall, this was a really amazing dish. I loved the flavor of the garlic oil combined with the shrimp and putting it over pasta was a great choice. I made some bread that was a great accompaniment as the oil left in the bowl was perfect for sopping up with the bread.

This is a great summer dish and very easy to prepare.


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