Gambas Pil Pil Recipe

We are currently at our home in Nerja, Spain, and have had several versions of gambas pil pil at restaurants and tapas bars around town. Everyone's is different, but the basic recipe is olive oil, slivered garlic, chili pepper, and peeled shrimp. We use butter and Tabasco in ours, which are not traditionally Spanish, but all our friends love it.  

Gambas Pil Pil. Photo by Frances Janisch for The Fire Island Cookbook. 

Gambas Pil Pil. Photo by Frances Janisch for The Fire Island Cookbook. 

Gambas Pil Pil

Sizzling, spicy shrimp are a favorite at the merenderos which line the beaches on the Costa del Sol. These are great in the afternoon with a Rosado, a light, fruit-scented rosé wine, served as an appetizer. On cool evenings, we will also pair this with a joven or Crianza Tempranillo. 


·      32 jumbo shrimp, cleaned

·      8 tablespoons butter, melted

·      1 1/3 cups olive oil

·      6 tablespoons hot paprika

·      1 teaspoon ground cayenne

·      1 teaspoon Tabasco or hot sauce

·      4 teaspoons sea salt

·      12 cloves garlic, slivered

·      Crusty bread for dunking in sauce

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, stir together all ingredients except shrimp. Place four shrimp in each of eight small oven-proof ramekins or dishes, and then spoon 1/8 of the sauce over each serving.  Arrange the shrimp, and place under pre-heated broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until shrimp is red-pink, and oil is sizzling. Place each ramekin onto a slightly larger dish, and serve at once. Be sure to yell “Hot plate!!!” as you slide it onto the table. Serve with crusty Italian or French bread, and make sure to soak up all that good garlicky-hot oil.  Serves eight. 

You can substitute 48 or 56 slightly smaller shrimp for the 32 jumbo shrimp.

Wine Pairing: 

Vivanco Rosé, Garnacha and Tempranillo, Rioja, Spain

This light and fruity rosé made from Spanish varieties has the crispness of a white wine and the mouth-feel of a red. 

From THE FIRE ISLAND COOKBOOK Copyright © 2012 by The World Wine Guys, LLC published by Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.