August 10, 2009

Not quite cracktastic....


Hands down, my favorite dish to order when out for tapas is Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp in garlic & oil). Sala 19 is probably my favorite spot for this dish: there is something cracktastically delicious about this dish--the softness of the shrimp, the incredible garlicky tang of the olive oil..divine. Once the shrimp is gone, I will gladly scoop up the sauce with just some crusty bread. I found an article in a magazine that gave me hope I might be able to create such culinary cracktastickness (sp?) in my own kitchen.



This recipe (which calls for only olive oil, shrimp, red chile peppers, and fresh parsley for the garnish) came out okay...but something is missing. Yes, the shrimp is soft and delectable; yes, the garlic infuses the oil nicely; yes, the red pepper (less powerful since I removed the ribs and seeds--I think I removed too much, fyi) gives it just the right amount of quiet heat, lurking in the back of your throat as you're distracted by the garlic. But it's just...okay. The first batch came out a bit bland, so while the recipe didn't originally call for it, I added a sprinkle of sea salt. That helped, but it's still not quite there.



Has anyone out there tried this dish? Any suggestions for how to take it to the next sensory level? What am I missing? I used fresh and jarred garlic (sliced the fresh, the jarred was already minced). Ayudame, por favor (Help me please!)! Gracias. :)

5 comments:

Beth said...

Cook's Illustrated... for recipes or just ideas... they'll totally hook you up. In their recipe, they use dried chilis and sherry vinegar... maybe that's the zing you're missing...

zuthie said...

try lime..fresh, of course..splash the shrimp just before you serve

Axelrod said...

I made something similar a few times (though, of course, without the pepper) and the key was REALLY good olive oil and a dash of rosemary. Mmmmm. Dreaming of that now.
~Sara

Diana Bauman said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! Love yours!! So, here's what I would suggest. Use a cast iron skillet or cazuela. This is pretty important as the cast iron or cazuela heats up evenly, but retains moisture. Heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil, with the garlic and chile (In Spain they use a dried red chile) Bring that temp up, nice and hot! Once the garlic is sizzling and brown, add your shrimp for just a few minutes. Toss and turn, they'll turn a bit brown. A difficult thing in the states is the quality of our shrimp. If you're not using fresh, wild shrimp, I would definitely add a bit of salt and lemon juice. From looking at your pics, it seems as though you may have added too much oil. Looking forward to following you!

eonyc said...

I'm gonna have to suck it up and get a new skillet! Thanks, Diana--and everyone else!

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