The practice in Spain for the last meal the day consists of eating small dishes. The evening fare usually consists of what is known as tapas. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Spain’s far north in the Pyrenees or southern Spain near Gibraltar, the tapas is a ritual after dusk in lieu of a large dinner.
As with many cultural habits in Spain, folklore takes precedence in how things came about. There are many tales on how the tradition of eating tapas began, and the most popular story tends to bring out the romantic in one. Alfonso the Wise (“Alfonso El Sabio”), Spain’s King Alfonso X, had visited a tavern during his travels where he requested a beer to quench his thirst. The innkeeper served the drink to the king along with an assortment of small appetizers on a plate covered with a glass lid. The King was impressed and being the “wise” man he was said to be, realized that by eating small amounts while drinking, he would not impair the senses. He decreed by law that food always be served with any alcoholic drink. Ironically, the word “tapa” in Spanish means “lid,” and “tapas” is simply its plural form, so perhaps there is a truth to this tale.
Pinchos are simply tapas on skewers. It should come as no surprise to seafood lovers that the tapas, “Pinchos de Gambas,” is so rich that it can be served as a main meal with a side.
Recipe and photos contributed to Hispanic Kitchen by Veronica Shine
“Pinchos de Gambas” also makes for a wonderful starter during that summer barbeque meal. Mushroom caps, chunks of onions, garlic cloves, green peppers and even additional seafood, such as sea scallops or lobster, can be added on the skewers for your personal liking. This recipe is a specialty served in Spain and will please all who sit at your table.
• 12 jumbo raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
• 1 cup of white wine
• 1 fluid ounce or 1/8 cup of virgin olive oil
• 1 sliced yellow pepper (cut into 1 ½ inch squares)
• 12 cherry tomatoes
• 1½ tablespoons minced fresh garlic
• ¼ teaspoon thyme
• ¼ teaspoon parsley
• ¼ teaspoon oregano
• ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
• ½ teaspoon paprika
• Lemon wedges
• 4 skewers – approximately 8 inches in length
1. In a bowl, combine the wine, oil, thyme, parsley, oregano, vegetables and shrimp and toss well.
2. Cover the bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.
3. When ready to make, heat the grill and drain the marinade from ingredients and setting aside the liquid.
4. Thread each skewer with 3 shrimp with the vegetables alternating between each piece of seafood. Dip each in the remaining liquid. Sprinkle the black pepper and paprika on each one.
5. Grill the skewers about 3 inches from the heat for about 6 minutes. Baste the skewers with the remaining liquid while cooking. Once the shrimp loses its translucent appearance it can be served with the lemon wedges.
Serve the remaining white wine as a spritzer with your meal.