Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gambas al Ajillo (Traditional Garlic Shrimp)

Jaleo was one of the first tapas restaurants I remember visiting with my family around 5 years ago.  We visited both the Washington, DC and the Bethesda, MD locations.  Since then I feel like tapas restaurants of every possible variety have opened up in NYC and across the country.  And not all of those tapas restaurants are serving authentic Spanish tapas - there are plenty of restaurants claiming to serve Asian, Mexican, Greek (tapas are properly called mezze across the Eastern Mediterranean) and fusion "tapas."  Three or four years ago tapas were the next big thing.   Now they are kind of old hat, but in the best way possible.  Since Jaleo was one of the first tapas restaurants I visited in the US it holds a special place in my heart.  So a few years ago I picked up Jose Andres' cookbook Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America because he's the chef/owner of Jaleo and he's one of the best tapas chefs, both of traditional tapas and of more innovative tapas based on molecular gastronomy.  Somehow the cookbook got shuffled to the bottom row on the bookshelf and we forgot about it for awhile.  Oops.  But after tonight's dinner, I'm going to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

While I was at the gym I left Alex in charge of figuring out what recipe to use with the jumbo shrimp I picked up at Fairway yesterday.  When I got home he told me we were making Jose Andres' Gambas al Ajillo.  I was both impressed and excited.  Good job honey.  The shrimp were amazingly quick-cooking and tasty.  From start to finish I think the recipe took 10 minutes.  The flavor of the shrimp was all about the garlic, with just a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes and then sherry for some zing.  The Red Cat Zucchini we prepared with the shrimp made the perfect light and quick summer dinner.  It probably took me 15 minutes from start to finish to prepare the zucchini, but a grand total of 3 minutes (or less) of actual cooking time.  Combined the two dishes used up one cutting board, two pans, and less than 30 minutes.  What a wonderful, quick, and easy summer dinner.

Recipes after the jump!

Gambas al Ajillo (Traditional Garlic Shrimp)
Adapted from Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America
By Jose Andres with Richard Wolfe

3 tbsp evoo
5 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp dried red chili flakes
1 tsp Sherry
2 tsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Heat evoo in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute until golden brown, 1-2 minutes.  Do not burn the garlic - if it starts looking like bark, it is burnt and you need to throw it out and start over.  Burnt garlic is super bitter and it will make your shrimp taste awful.  Add shrimp and chili pepper.  Cook until shrimp are opaque, about 4 minutes.  Add sherry and cook for another minute.  Add salt to taste.

Garnish with parsley.  Serve warm.

Quick Saute of Zucchini
The Red Cat Cookbook
By Jimmy Bradley & Andrew Friedman

3 tbsp evoo
1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
2 large zucchini or 3-4 small, cut into thin matchsticks
4 oz. Pecorino Romano, shaved into thin peels with vegetable peeler

Pour oil into large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat.  When oil is hot, but not smoking, add almonds.  Cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds, or until almonds are golden and fragrant.  Add zucchini to pan.  Toss or stir zucchini with the hot oil for 10 seconds.  Season with s&p to taste and toss to distribute.  

Transfer zucchini to plate, drizzle with additional evoo if desired, and top with Pecorino.  Serve immediately.

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