Spanish Garlic Shrimp – one of the most popular and classic tapas, served as a main with a side dish of classic Catalan Style Spinach with pine nuts, apple and raisins.
I have a problem. After every vacation, my body is back but my spirit is still on vacation – with the sights, sounds or food. This time it’s the Spanish flavours that I’m dreaming about from my Barcelona vacation. Especially the fresh seafood. Spain, a culinary crossroads with cultural influences that over the centuries have made Spanish food one of the most popular Mediterranean cuisines. Most of traditional spanish cooking is down-to-earth, uncomplicated food, based on the ingredients available locally or the crops grown regionally.
Fish is on my plate almost twice a week, but not so much with other type seafood. Because Spain is surrounded mainly by water, fresh seafood is always plentiful in the markets and it’s on their meals daily. As I don’t eat pork (an ingredient in Spanish food), I had gorgeous fresh seafood almost everyday I was there, cooked with simple ingredients. The Chinese way of cooking seafood is done also mostly by steaming it, to let so the true sweet flavours of the seafood can become the star of the dish.
One of the most popular and classic Spanish tapas is Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp). Shrimp is sauteed in olive oil and lots of garlic (2 must-have ingredients in Spanish cooking), with a slight bite from the red chili and a splash of brandy. A quick and easy shrimp dish that will be gone within minutes of serving.
Instead of making this dish as a tapas/appetizer, I made bigger portions to serve as main dish with Catalan Style Spinach. I stumbled upon this classic spinach recipe from the Cataluña (Catalonia) region on Jose Andre’s site. The spinach is briefly sauteed in olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, apple and raisins. If you don’t like spinach, I’m sure this sweetish garlicky spinach version will change your mind about spinach. It is a delicious and elegant side dish to serve with dinner.
For that brief meal, I float back to Spain.
Do you have the same problem? What do you dream about after your vacation?
- 250g Shrimp (about 10 tiger shrimps) - deveined, can be cooked in shell or peeled
- 3 cloves Garlic - thinly sliced
- 1 large Bird’s Eye Chili (or substitute with preferred Dried Chili or 1 teaspoon Chili Flakes)
- 1 teaspoon Cognac
- 1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
- 2 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Sea salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan or heavy frying pan. Saute garlic and dried chili for about one minute until garlic just begin to brown.
- Add shrimp and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, until shrimp turns pink. Add lemon juice and cognac to cook for another 1 minute. Take off heat, season to taste with salt, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately on a plate or serve right from the pan.
- 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small red Apple - peeled and cut into ¼-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons Pine Nuts
- 2 tablespoons Dark Raisins
- 150g Baby Spinach
- Sea Salt to taste
- Heat the olive oil In a large pan over a high flame. When the oil is very hot, add garlic, pine nuts and raisins and saute for 1 minute until slightly browned. Keep stirring so the pine nuts won't get burnt. Add apple cubes and sauté until slightly browned, about a minute. Add the spinach and sauté briefly until the spinach starts to wilt. Remove from the heat; the spinach will continue to wilt off the flame. Add salt to taste and serve immediately.