Gambas a la Plancha

Grilled Garlic Prawns


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Tapas


Appears in


By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

Statistics say that the Spanish eat an astonishing 37 kg (82 lb) of seafood every year. Judging by the number of prawn shells on tapas bar floors I reckon that figure is mainly made up of prawns. Walk into any tapas bar and there is the cocinero (cook) preparing them right in front of you. It’s an intense experience β€” the combined smell of hot steel, scorched shell and briny sea, and finally a cloud of steam, when the cocinero roughly squeezes lemon over the grill to dress the prawns. The secret to gambas a la plancha is to make sure you get the grill really hot to soften the shell. Then the whole prawn is edible β€” including the head!


  • 12 raw king prawns (shrimp)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100 ml (3Β½ fl oz) ajo y perejil
  • 2 large pinches of sea salt flakes
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • lemon wedges, to serve


Make a shallow cut with a very sharp small knife along the length of each prawn back. Remove and discard the dark vein, leaving on the head, tail and shell.

Put the prawns in a bowl and drizzle over the olive oil, ajo y perejil and then sprinkle with sea salt. Preheat a barbecue grill or cast-iron grill to high.

Cook the prawns on the barbecue for 2 minutes. Season by squeezing two lemon halves over the prawns, then turn them and cook for a further 2 minutes. Quickly squeeze the remaining lemon halves over the prawns and serve immediately with the lemon wedges.