Traditionally Spanish, Gambas al Ajillo took on a Filipino twist with the use of traditional Philippine ingredients. The Spanish recipe originally calls for lemon juice and some form of alcohol (usually either cognac or dry sherry). The Philippine version, simply referred to as Gambas, replaces the lemon juice with kalamansi juice (Philippine citrus) and omits the alcohol altogether. Either way, it's one of my favorite shrimp dishes.
The recipe calls for very little ingredients, the success of the finished product relying solely on the quality of its components. That is why I make it a point to use the freshest prawns in making Gambas, which fortunately, are always in good supply at the local market. It's great as appetizer and even as a main course.
1 kg (2lb) medium prawns, peeled (heads, tails and shells discarded)
Juices of 3-4 calamansi
1/4 cup olive oil
Cloves of 1 whole head of garlic, peeled and crushed
Dash Tabasco (or other hot pepper sauce)
Salt and pepper to taste
Parsley, to garnish (optional)
Sliced green chili, to garnish (optional)
Marinate peeled prawns in calamansi juice for about 30 mins.
Heat oil in a frying pan or wok and sauté garlic until almost brown.
Add prawns and stir fry until fully cooked, about 2 to 3 mins. Do not overcook.
Season with hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Transfer prawns to a serving dish together with the garlic. If desired, garnish with parsley and chili.
Serve as an appetizer, as a first course or as pulutan with drinks.