Though known colloquially as “Santa Barbara spot prawns,” these sweet, buttery-tasting Pacific-based crustaceans are harvested from San Diego to Alaska. If they’re not available at your local market, buy the best shrimp you can find, preferably wild-caught.
- 8 jumbo or extra-large head-on, shell-on shrimp, preferably Santa Barbara spot prawns or tiger shrimp
- 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 3 dried guindilla or other small red chiles
- 1 to 2 teaspoons dry Spanish sherry
- 1/2 lemon
- 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Prepare the shrimp by snipping off the legs with kitchen shears. Then carefully push the shells off the bodies. Separate the shrimp heads from the tails by using a sharp knife to cut off the heads with one-third-inch of the tails attached to keep the juices inside the heads.
Generously coat the bottom of a medium cazuela, terracotta pot, or Dutch oven with the olive oil. Add the garlic, sprinkle lightly with salt and set over medium-low heat. Bring to a sizzle, stirring occasionally, until the garlic chips start to dance and turn golden brown around the edges, about two minutes. Don’t let them burn. Transfer the garlic to a paper-towel-lined plate and reserve.
Add the chiles to the hot oil and cook, turning, until a shade darker, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the plate with the garlic.
Add the shrimp heads, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning occasionally, for 30 seconds. Add the shrimp tails, sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, turning, for 15 seconds. Return the garlic and chiles to the pot and shake and swirl the pot so the garlic coats everything. Add the sherry and let the alcohol burn off, about one minute. Zest half of the lemon half directly into the pot, then stir in half of the parsley. When the shrimp become opaque and their juices emulsify with the oil into a sauce, remove from the heat. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice, and serve immediately.
Serves 2 and can be multiplied as desired — Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2019