English-style Gambas al Ajillo – Prawns with Gin and Garlic

This tapas is based on the very traditional Spanish tapas, Gambas al ajillo – grilled garlicky prawns in a dry sherry, picante sauce.

But I’ve given it a successful English twist – I’ve replaced the sherry with gin; I’m frying instead of grilling; and rather than using chillies, I’m still staying in Spain but moderating the heat by just using Spanish bitter-sweet smoked paprika.


Recipe for a gin-soaked English make-over of gambas al ajillo

Serves 2


  • 160g (about ten) ready-cooked, shelled and frozen king prawns
  • 60 ml/¼ cup/4 tbsp gin
  • generous shake (at least a tsp) Spanish bitter-sweet smoked paprika
  • olive oil for frying
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • a few sprigs of lemon thyme


  1. Defrost the prawns – allow at least a couple of hours for this.
  2. Get the olive oil nice and hot, and add the prawns – fry a couple of minutes. Add the garlic. Sprinkle on some paprika. Turn the prawns onto their other side, sprinkle over more paprika. Fry for another couple of minutes until cooked through.
  3. Add the gin, let it sizzle to reduce and let it absorb the red paprika to form a red sauce.
  4. Add the thyme leaves and serve.


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