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Gambas a la plancha

Pan-grilled shrimp

Spaniards love to eat grilled shrimp at the counter of a good tapas bar while sipping a glass of chilled fino sherry or cold beer. The bars are often crowded, leaving little or no space for proper eating, and I find it fascinating to watch the locals skillfully manage to eat shrimp with one hand while holding a drink in the other. Look for medium-large whole shrimp and leave the heads on for cooking. Sucking the juices from the flavor-packed heads of the cooked shrimp is considered the best part.

  • Serves 6
  • Difficulty: Easy


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Sanlucar sea salt
  • 24 medium-large shrimp (about 1 pound) in the shell with heads intact


In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and salt until well blended. Dip the shrimp briefly into the mixture to coat lightly.

Heat a dry skillet over high heat. When the pan is very hot, working in batches, add the shrimp in a single layer without crowding. Sear for 1 minute. Decrease the heat to medium and continue cooking for 1 minute longer. Turn the shrimp, increase the heat to high, and sear for 2 more minutes, or until golden. Keep the shrimp warm on an ovenproof platter in a low oven. Cook the rest of the shrimp in the same way.

When all the shrimps are cooked, arrange on a platter and serve immediately.

See also...

Recommended wines

Tio Pepe Fino

Try this tapa with this fine Classic Bone Sherry, and get the real sensation of an spanish tapas bar.

Gonzalez Byass is one of the few bodegas remaining that are still in the hands of the original families. Why this matters it that they are traditionalists; having worked together for many generations. Their fino is a mark of their family.

Fortunately for us, they continue to make classic sherries such as Tio Pepe whether or not they are "cost effective".

Recommended Spanish ingredients

Wild Olive Oil by 'Can Solivera'

This precious wild olive oil has never left its native Cataluña until now. It is the essence of what it means to be all natural -- untouched by modern methods. The result is a balanced blend of buttery Arbequina and tangy Empeltre olives that create a smooth, versatile, and full-flavored olive oil. Serve with crusty bread, on green salads or cook with it in your favorite recipes.

Sanlúcar Sea Salt

This pure salt comes from the Altlantic Ocean water off of the fishing town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, situated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River -- the very place where Columbus assembled his crew for his voyage to the New World!

All natural sea salt is loaded with trace minerals that are not present in the ordinary table salt you find on the supermarket shelf. The men who harvest this salt by hand use the identical evaporating fields first constructed by the Phoenicians three thousand years ago!

What sets this salt apart is that it comes in the form of light flakes that dissolve instantly when you make a Spanish tortilla, sprinkle them on your eggs, or season a garden salad.

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