Gambas a la sidra come to the table bubbling and hissing in hellishly hot little terracotta dishes called cazuelitas (meaning little cazuelas). Cazuelitas are cheap, rustic and available from good food stores and Spanish delicatessens. You can use a small cast-iron frying pan or pot instead. Whatever you use, it should be small, as a larger dish may stew the prawns too much. At MoVida, we make this dish using
This recipe originates in the cool green climes of Asturia, northern Spain, prime apple growing and sidra (cider) making territory. Appley, smooth, yeasty and low in alcohol, Asturian ciders are as comparable to the cheap industrial Anglo-Saxon cider, as good champagne is to cask wine. Asturian cider can be hard to get but, thankfully, a handful of small cideries are still making good old-fashioned cider and the imported ciders from Normandy can be substituted as well.
If using terracotta cazuelitas, soak four in cold water for at least 24 hours (the longer the better). Drain and dry before using.
Make a shallow cut with a very sharp small knife along the length of each prawn back. Remove and discard the dark vein and shell, leaving on the head and tail.
Place the cazuelitas over low–medium heat and heat until very hot, only about 30 seconds. If using a cast-iron pot, heat until a few drops of water added to the pot bubble and hiss. When hot, carefully add the olive oil, parsley and garlic, dividing equally among the four cazuelitas. Once the garlic has been sizzling for 10 seconds, add three prawns to each cazuelita.
Season the prawns with sea salt flakes and some freshly ground black pepper and cook for just under 2 minutes each side. They should be well sealed and be just turning pink. Add the cider, pouring in enough until it is just under the top of the prawns. Cook, turning as needed, for 5 minutes, or until the cider has reduced by one-third and the prawns are cooked. Season again.
Place the cazuelitas on a heatproof tray, board or plate and serve immediately, while the prawns are sizzling and the cider is bubbling.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.