Gambas Pil Pil is one of the many traditional Spanish tapas that stand out for their simplicity and depth of flavours. It's a prawn starter made with fresh prawns, olive oil, garlic, paprika and chilli, and garnished with plenty of fresh parsley. It's super easy to make, and ready in about 5 minutes.
This dish sums up what the Mediterranean cuisine is all about: rich, deep flavours that come from the very ingredients used, where everything is as fresh as can be.
Apart from the fact that it's so easy to make, it's also super quick as well - it's literally on the table in about 5 minutes; you really can't beat that!
What is Gambas Pil Pil?
So what is Gambas Pil Pil or Gambas al Pil Pil? Gambas means "prawns" in Spanish, whereas pil pil describes a sauce made with olive oil, chilli and garlic. It is also used to describe the sizzling sound that the prawns and garlic make when added to the hot oil.
Tapas are small portions that usually accompany a beverage and are designed for sharing. While they aren't a proper meal but served as appetizers, they can be combined to make a full meal too. And let's be honest, there are so many delicious tapas out there!
While the Spanish Tortilla is perhaps one of the best-known tapas, and one of my favourite too, if you like prawns, I whole-heartedly recommend this Gambas Pil Pil, it's really scrumptious!
- prawns - I used fresh king prawns for this recipe, but any other kind of fresh prawns would do
- paprika - I used regular paprika, but smoked one can be used too
- olive oil - either regular or extra virgin olive oil
- fresh red chilli - it can be omitted if you don't have any
- chilli flakes - use as much or as little as you like
- garlic - the more, the better
- fresh parsley - adds colour and flavour
Step-by-step photos and instructions
- in a large frying pan, heat up the olive oil, add the peeled and chopped garlic, fresh chilli, paprika and chilli flakes and leave them to sizzle up for 30 seconds to release their flavour
- add the prawns and cook on both sides until they turn pink, that shouldn't take longer than 2-3 minutes
- garnish with freshly chopped parsley and serve immediately
Fresh prawns cook very quickly, as soon as they turn pink, they are ready! Do not overcook them, or they will turn rubbery and chewy, and not that nice at all!
This dish is best enjoyed with crusty bread, which can be used to mop up the delicious sauce - it really is the best!
Serve the dish immediately, as it cools down really quickly once it's removed from the heat, as while some people don't mind it cold, I think you get the best flavours while it is still hot.
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Gambas Pil Pil
- 200 g raw king prawns
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 red chilli
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Heat up the oil in a large pan set over a medium heat.
- Peel and chop the garlic and add it to the pan together with the chopped red chilli, paprika and the chilli flakes.
- Leave them to sizzle up for 30 seconds to release their flavour.
- Add the prawns and cook them until they turn pink, that should not take longer than 3 minutes on both sides.
- Garnish with freshly chopped parsley.
- Fresh prawns cook very quickly, as soon as they turn pink, they are ready! Do not overcook them, or they will turn rubbery and chewy, and not that nice at all!
- This dish is best enjoyed with crusty bread, which can be used to mop up the delicious sauce - it really is the best!
- Serve the dish immediately, as it cools down really quickly once it's removed from the heat, as while some people don't mind it cold, I think you get the best flavours while it is still hot.