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Simple to prepare and just fabulous as part of a Spanish themed dinner or tapas set, you will love these Spanish garlic prawns.
Do you call them shrimp or prawns? As you can see from the title of this recipe I have a foot in both camps so I am using the 2 words interchangeably today. But honestly, who cares? These shellfish are popular throughout the world and rightly so.
In addition to this garlic shrimp recipe, we also discuss the issue of where to buy and how to prepare these brilliant shellfish. Further, what are the best ways to cook them? There is no right answer to that because they are all good! So, let’s look at some of the more popular methods around the world to help answer that question.
Why Prawns and Shrimp are Such a Flexible Ingredient Right Around the World
Simple shrimp recipes abound all around the world. One of the reasons is quick shrimp recipes suit all methods of cooking and culinary styles.
A quick shrimp recipe is to just simply boil green (raw and in their shell) prawns for a couple of minutes, allow them to cool, peel the shell off and eat them. I have fond memories of eating them in this manner at the beach and at nearby piers. A great summer treat. Or you can do what the Thais do and make Tom Yum Soup. Delicious.
Anyone for sautéed shrimp or wok tossed prawns? There are no end of cultures using this simple method. With only a couple of minutes cooking time it is very efficient and therefore popular method of cooking right around the world.
How about grilled prawns? Very popular where I come from and they go superbly as part of a grilled seafood salad. Or maybe you want grill out on the barbecue? Perfect with a satay marinade if you want to try a South East Asian style, or maybe Greek with some lemon, garlic and oregano?
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Roasted shrimp work as well. For this method, you will need larger prawns you can spilt open and stuff. Using the oven also works if you are using smaller shrimp to bake inside a pie.
You can steam prawns as well. Just brilliant with ginger and garlic. You can also steam them as dumplings like the Chinese. A great way to enjoy dumplings is to go to a restaurant which features Yum Cha or Dim Sum.
Or, you can be Peruvian and not cook them at all! Instead you can use small shrimp in ceviche, which you simply “cook” in lime or lemon juice. A brilliant dish in summer if you want something refreshing to help cool you down.
Just look how many ways you can prepare garlic butter shrimp. There are subtle and not so subtle differences just between France, Italy and Spain in the preparation of this dish. But today, it is Spanish Garlic Prawns. But before we get to the recipe some words about how to buy prawns.
How to Buy Prawns and Shrimp?
Long-time readers know I have a bias towards buying all fresh produce from a local market. We travel to all parts of the world and still shop at a market no matter where we are or what the language is. If there is no market, then we look towards small shopkeepers or small, independently-owned supermarkets.
This is particularly important for seafood. I like to see (and sometimes touch) the produce and feel confident it is fresh before I buy it. I also like to talk to the shopkeeper for cooking suggestions and develop a bond. Confidence in the product is key. I also think small business owners take pride in their product and look after their customers.
For example, just look at the quality of these magnificent prawns in the nearby picture. Absolutely stunning! These pictures are from the Mercat Central Valencia. Seeing displays like this excites me. When you see produce this good you want to prepare a beautiful dish.
Shopping in an environment like this is is what good cooking is all about. It excites the passion! Luckily the Spanish culture (and most cultures around the world) has a strong bias toward market shopping or small shopkeepers.
When buying the shellfish for this Spanish garlic prawns recipe, I bought whole, “green” prawns. I didn’t have a choice as they don’t sell them any other way in this market. But, for me, this is the best way to buy prawns. Why you should buy your prawns whole and green:
- The first is the actual flesh of the whole prawn is not drying out. Your prawns will be fresher and moister when you peel them yourself at home than if you buy them pre-peeled.
- The second benefit is that you can make a great tasting prawn stock in just a few minutes with the leftover heads and peel. Don’t underestimate this little bonus. You then have a great stock for a seafood soup or Tom Yum Soup.
So onto the recipe for Spanish garlic prawns.
Spanish Garlic Prawns
Spanish garlic prawns in a garlic butter sauce has a secret ingredient – smoked paprika. A very popular spice in Spain, it gives the dish a great, smoky flavor and just look at that color! Simple shrimp recipes don’t come much easier than this. If you like sautéed shrimp, you will love this dish.
You want to buy medium-sized shrimp for this popular Spanish dish. You can serve them as an appetizer, or as part of a Spanish themed dinner party. Or why not serve them tapas style as part of a tapas set?
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- 1 lb fresh shrimp (prawns) raw, peeled and cleaned, with tail intact
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 tsp salt, ground sea
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tsp paprika, smoked
- 1 tbsp parsley chopped
- If you have purchased whole prawns, peel the prawns but leave the tail intact. Slit the prawns lengthways. Do not go all the way through. Remove the vein. Reserve the heads and peels to make a stock for another dish. Chop the garlic and the parsley.
- In a bowl make a simple marinade with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, garlic and salt. Add the prawns and stir to combine well. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes before cooking.
- In a heavy-based pan or wok over high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then add the butter. When the butter has melted, immediately add the marinaded prawns and smoked paprika. Cook quickly tossing them constantly. When cooked the prawns will change color to red, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the size of the prawns.
- Remove the pan or wok from the heat and toss through the parsley. Serve immediately.
Worst kept modern secret: brine your shrimp with a tsp. of baking soda and water for 15 to 30 minutes before rinsing and marinating. Your guests will unanimously declare that you make the best shrimp ever.
I’ve not tried that Steve. Thanks for the heads up. I’ll give a try next time I’m cooking shrimp. Cheers.