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Spanish Shrimp in Garlic Sauce (Gambas al Ajillo)
A classic tapa, served in every region of Spain, is also classically simple to prepare

Ingredients:
3/4 pound fresh medium shrimp
coarse salt to taste
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 small hot dried red chili pepper, seeded and crumbled
3/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
1. Devein the shrimp by cutting through the back with the shell still on. Spread them open, but leave the shell attached. Salt lightly and reserve.
2. Heat the oil in an 8-inch flameproof earthenware casserole over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, and chili pepper, and cook, stirring, until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Immediately add the shrimp, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are just cooked through, being careful not to overcook. Taste for seasoning, and sprinkle shrimp with coarse salt if desired. Discard the bay leaf, sprinkle with parsley, and serve very hot in the earthenware casserole, with crusty bread on the side.

A classic tapa, served in every region of Spain, is also classically simple to prepare. Make sure you use the freshest shrimp available; it really makes a difference. This recipe works best when cooked in an earthenware casserole. Serves 4 as a tapa