Cooking Experiences

Spicing up your prawns “pil pil” style

Continuing on from her recent post, Caroline brings us the sunny taste of Spain…

We are on holiday at the moment in the lovely Andalucian town of Nerja and thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to buy beautifully fresh shellfish at a fraction of what it would cost in the U.K. The other day we enjoyed a lunch of spaghetti alle vongole, with the clams costing a mere €3! Today, seeing lovely plump prawns for €9 a kilo I decided to make one of our favourite tapas dishes, prawns pil pil, or gambas al pil pil to give it its Spanish name.

The word “pil pil” is a Swahili word for pepper and the sauce originated in the Basque region but prawns pil pil is a real Andalucian favourite, particularly in the Malaga area. It is really easy and quick to make (in fact the most laborious bit is de-heading and shelling the prawns), requires very few ingredients (many of which I already had in our rental apartment from cooking our spaghetti vongole) and is absolutely scrumptious. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients: (enough for 4 to 6 as a starter or 2 very greedy people as a main!)

1kg uncooked prawns
200 ml olive oil
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Half a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
Half a teaspoon of paprika
Half a teaspoon of salt


  1. De-head and peel the prawns, leaving the tails on.
  2. Put in a bowl, sprinkle salt on and put in fridge for 30 mins.
    Put a terracotta dish in preheated oven.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until almost bubbling.
    Add the garlic and chilli and cook for a minute.
  4. Add the prawns for 3 – 4 minutes until cooked.
  5. Transfer to the terracotta dish.
  6. Sprinkle on the paprika.
  7. Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the oil.

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