Hot and Spicy Gambas Recipe
Hot and Spicy Gambas Recipe

Hot and Spicy Gambas Recipe

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!

Hot and Spicy Gambas

PIN ME! Hot and Spicy Gambas

Hot and Spicy Gambas - Garlic n Pepper

Hot and Spicy Gambas – Garlic n Chilli

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;).

Hot and Spicy Gambas 2

PIN ME! Hot and Spicy Gambas 2

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.

Hot and Spicy Gambas - Olive Oil

Hot and Spicy Gambas – Olive Oil

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.

Hot and Spicy Gambas - Rice Vinegar

Hot and Spicy Gambas – Rice Vinegar

Hot and Spicy Gambas
Recipe Type: Tapas, Appetiser, Beer Match
Cuisine: Filipino
Author: Alesah
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 to 3
Gambas is an appetiser, tapas or beer match made from shrimp with garlic and olive oil. An absolute no-leftover dish!
  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 ;).

Hot and Spicy Gambas 3

PIN ME! Hot and Spicy Gambas 3

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!


Gourmet Getaways

About Alesah Villalon

I used to chase life as one would chase targets in their calendar years. Until someone came to say, "Do more of the things that you love, and share that love with others!" Now I'm slowing down a bit.

I try to write. I try to shoot beautiful images of places I love. I try to share wholeheartedly the things that I enjoy.

I hope you can share with me all the pleasures that life has to offer through my stories.

Contact me at


  1. Wow Alesah!
    This dish looks amazing! I never would have thought to use the prawn shells to add more flavor to the oil. Yum!
    I’m going to have to try this recipe. Gorgeous photos too!

  2. Spectacular looking dish!

  3. Yum. I adore garlic prawns. Nothing better than getting some bread to soak up all that tasty garlicky underneath as well!

  4. What a fabulous dish and mouth watering photos! I will have to make this soon or I will keep dreaming about it…so good!

  5. Ooo fabulous!
    Have a super day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  6. Loving how just a few ingredients can make such a stunning presentation. Did the vinegar inspiration come from some dishes you have enjoyed in the Philippines? Sharing, of course!

    • Aww..thanks for the lovely comment, Bam! I found the use of vinegar while doing some research. And since Filipinos have vinegar in their kitchens, I had added a little (though cane or the common household vinegar is a staple) rice vinegar to add balance to the dish. 🙂

  7. Love that first (and last!) picture. Love the recipe, too — so much flavor. Thanks so much.

  8. Alesah, your crevettes sont l’air délicieuses ! Je mangerais bien un portion pour mon repas de ce soir !

  9. There certainly wouldn’t be any leftovers here. This sounds delicious–spicy food and shrimp are 2 of my favorite things!

  10. Alesah,

    This one is killer recipe, I need it now, I am going to grab some prawn from the market and try this one. It has everything I want, garlic, chili .

  11. Oh yum! Prawn shells always add a punch of flavour. Lunch time was not the best time to see these pics 😉

  12. This sounds like a perfect tropical meal!

  13. oh my, that looks sooooo good! x

  14. Just went down to the kitchen and asked the chefs if they would make me this for dinner. They said YES! I look forward to some serious GAMBAS snacking this end too. 🙂

  15. Ooh love anything spicy!!!These prawns are calling my name and I cannot wait to try 🙂

  16. These look finger looking good! Looove spicy prawns.

  17. Lovely recipe Alesha.

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