I was 19 years of age and we (the Lads) were on our first Spanish apartment holiday. We were the height of Irish male sophistication, looking like six milk bottles for the first couple of days and like a breed of strange glowing lobsters for the balance of the fortnight. We proudly displayed and contrasted our tans beside the pool. Me a golden bronze (in my head) and the others a more swarthy mahogany (in their heads). Time by the pool would be spent recovering from the previous night’s excess and preparing ourselves for that yet to come. This would involve lying in the Feungirola sun, feeling like death warmed up before being brave enough to have the first bottle of San Miguel.
A couple of them would set the world to rights and we would have lunch in the poolside bar. The speciality of the house being a very strange, square, beef burger. Nothing another couple of San M’s would not rinse away. As the evening beckoned we would repair to the apartment, a two bed, sleeping six. Washed, suited, booted and wearing enough aftershave to empty a badger set we would go out for our evening meal.
Fancy menus and preening waiters would usually be too much for us. A good deal of steak and chips was ordered. The starter of choice was the traditional prawn cocktail. This until the evening when one of the group enquired “What’s that they’re eating?”, pointing to an adjacent table. There began our over-indulgence in Gambas Pil Pil. Prawns in paprika, chili, garlic, parsley and olive oil. We had it in numerous restaurants only holding back if we thought the garlic would interfere with our ‘chances’ in the nightclubs on the strip.
To make your own, first, go out and buy a few ovenproof dishes. These are traditional Spanish and dirt cheap. Add a generous layer of oil. You really don’t need me to give you exact measure. You want enough to have the prawns swimming rather than drowning.
Here’s what else I used:
- 3 single clove garlics, equating to about a bulb of ordinary garlic.
- 24 prawns
- 1 big handful of parsley
- 3 teaspoons of smoked paprika.
- 3 generous pinches of hot chili flakes
Next thing to do is pop the ovenproof dishes with oil into a 220º C oven. While these are heating up (until the oil starts to bubble), chop the garlic.
Then do likewise with the parsley. Best to leave this until just before you take the dishes out of the oven as it tends to wilt pretty quickly.
Add the prawns, garlic, paprika and chili flakes to the hot oil and stir to coat.
Pop them back into the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them. If they over-cook, they will taste like rubber. Serve them straight from the oven with some nice white bread to dip in the hot, peppery, garlicky, oil. Delicious.
In time, we Lads grew out of our beer, steak and chips stage. Some of even gave up lying in the sun and going to nightclubs. I do think that question asked of our preening waiter all those years ago helped move us along. Do give this a try it’s easy and very, very tasty.