Hello and kumusta (how are you), dear GG readers?!
Oh, I missed greeting you that…just as I missed “cooking” for all of you. Mind the quotation marks as regular readers would know I am not a cook! You all knew how much sweat I let out to pull off my first dish here. Do you still remember what that was?! Oh yes, the famed SISIG. And then there were Callos, Leche Flan, Buko Pandan, Lumpiang Shanghai, Purple Yam Jam. And now it’s time for another Filipino favourite…Hot and Spicy Gambas!
What exactly is “gambas”? It’s Spanish for prawns or shrimp. As you may all know the Philippine kitchen is heavily influenced by Hispanic roots. But I no longer want to delve into history lest I fall into a slumber here;).
The long title of this dish is Gambas al Ajillo or garlic prawns. But Filipinos simply call it Gambas. A beer match or a rice topper – this dish hands out an absolute NO-LEFTOVER guarantee card! And it’s so easy to make (take it from me!), this is a sure blockbuster. I heard a lot of rotten tomatoes hurled at the “boring” Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Don’t fret – Gambas is here to the rescue! Hot and spicy and certified: NB = not boring.
You may adjust the salt and level of heat as you wish. I suggest you start with the minimum, though. To me, this recipe is perfect as it is – no adjustments needed.
- 500g medium prawns, rinsed, peeled and deveined with tail intact (reserve shells for flavour)
- 1 head, garlic
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- Parsley, chopped
- Red siling labuyo or bird’s eye chilli, chopped (I used just 1 pc)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- Calamansi for rinsing the prawns (optional)
- Mince 3 to 4 garlic cloves and put them in a bowl with the shelled prawns. Season with paprika, salt, pepper and about 3 to 4 Tbsp olive oil.
- Crush about 3 to 4 garlic cloves and put them together with the prawn shells and chilli in a skillet. Saute to low-medium heat while turning the shells. In 8 to 10 minutes, the oil should be aromatic and the shells, deep red. Turn off the heat and strain. Press on the shells and garlic until all the oil is extracted. Set aside the oil and discard the shells and garlic.
- Using the flavoured oil, heat the skillet to medium-high heat. Add 3 to 4 cloves sliced garlic until golden brown. Add in the prawns and cook very briefly, only until all sides are bright orange. This will take less than 3 minutes. Add the vinegar and parsley. Then turn off the heat and serve immediately.
I’ll share something with you…Today is the last day of my juicing detox when Julie announced she misses seeing Filipino food on GG. My chief may have been a master temptress in her past life!
The moment gambas came to mind I had all the flavours gushing down from my brain transmitters to the tip of my tongue. The last drop of juice from my detox bottle officially marked the start of some serious GAMBAS snacking ;).
So dear GG readers, have you tried Gambas? Don’t come back to tell me I didn’t warn you – répétez après moi – no leftovers!