Today is World Tapas Day, a time to celebrate the small plates commonly served at bars in Spain. Along with paella and grilled fish, griddled shrimp are a fixture on the menu at nearly every beach restaurant up and down the Spanish Mediterranean coast. A plancha, at its most basic, is a metal surface that can be heated from below, preferably over an open fire. It has an important advantage over a conventional grill: the juices from whatever is being cooked are retained and concentrated and never drip into the fire. Serve with a crisp, acidic white wine with a slight sparkle.
Gambas a la Plancha
24 large shrimp in the shell, about 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) total
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced
Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and drizzle generously with olive oil.
Place a griddle or a large fry pan over high heat until hot. The griddle is ready when a drop of water flicked on the surface sizzles and evaporates instantly. Place the shrimp on the hot surface and cook,
turning once, until they are opaque throughout and the shells begin to brown, about 5 minutes on each side. Sprinkle the garlic and parsley over the shrimp; cook, without stirring, for about 30 seconds; and then turn the shrimp one last time. Transfer to a warmed platter and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World: Barcelona