garlic shrimp tapas

One of the pleasures of Spain is to go on a “Tapeo,” to roam leisurely from bar to bar in order to sample the delights of the tapas, as your heart takes you through the local bars. The word “tapas” literally means lid, and the first tapas were slices of bread used to cover glasses of wine in small inns and shops to keep the wine fresh. But where did it originate?


As the legend goes, the tradition of tapas was born centuries ago in the 13th century when, due to an illness, the Spanish King Alfonso the 10th, the Wise, was advised by his physician to eat small snacks with wine between meals. Upon his recovery, the king proclaimed that in all the inns of Castile’s land, wine was not to be served without a smile bite to eat. At that time, the workers of the land often needed to take a break — have a small bit of wine — during the day to prolong their work hours until the main meal, which was served later in the day. The shops and innkeepers, being businessmen, were eager to comply with the king’s proclamation, and began placing a slice of bread atop each glass of wine before it was served. Then of course, competition led to more complex snacks, a bit of cheese, a bit of ham … and a tradition was born.

This recipe is one of my favorites, served frequently in tapas classes here at Sizzleworks. It comes from the Andalusian region of Spain, and pairs well with dry Sherry or white Rioja.

garlic shrimp with peppers

2 large red bell peppers
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon brandy
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
salt & pepper to taste
crusty bread slices

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Place bell pepper, on foil, then into preheated oven until charred and blisters form on the outside, bout 40 minutes. Peel bell peppers. Remove seeds and slice into thick strips. Arrange on serving platter.

Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper and paprika, cook until the garlic is fragrant but not browned. Add shrimp and sauté until the shrimp begin to turn pink and curl, about 3 minutes. Pour brandy over, and ignite. Cook one minute longer. Sprinkle with parsley; season to taste. Arrange on platter with peppers. Serve hot or warm atop bread slices, with sauce spooned over shrimp.

Serves 6 to 8.

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