Gambas en gabardina or battered shrimps is a very traditional tapa found in taverns all around Spain. These are shrimps battered in Orly batter, then deep-fried in oil to give them a golden and crunchy texture.
This tapa is nowadays considered “vintage food”, that is to say, one of those recipes our grandmothers used to make. But here at School of Tapas we think that this type of cuisine is the most authentic and always ends up making a comeback.
The name gabardina refers to the batter cover of the shrimp, gabardina meaning raincoat, made with an Orly batter. The batter mixture consists of flour, baking powder, beer, salt and, in this case, a pinch of saffron.
Some recipes call for egg as well, but we don’t use it. The reason? The egg in the batter prevents the exit of the juices, which are cooked inside and tend to crystallize and render a soggier beignet, as well as slightly masking the flavor of the food as we remarked in our battered cod´s recipe.
Choose the shrimp size you prefer, though we recommend using large pieces. The head and the shell are removed, leaving the final part of the tail that will serve for gripping the shrimp while eating it.
- 1 pound (500g) fresh shrimp
- ¼ pound (120g) AP/plain flour
- ½ cup (100g) beer
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of saffron
- Salt to taste
- Mix all the ingredients till you see no flour lumps. Cover and let rest 30 minutes. The final consistency should be similar to pancake batter.
- Remove heads and shells from the shrimp except the end of their tails.
- Pour the olive oil on a medium-sized frying pan and place it on medium heat. around 180ºC/355ºF. The oil must not give up any smoke.
- Coat the shrimps in batter, one by one, then dip them in the oil.
- Fry them in batches, 4-5 each time until golden and crisp, around 1 and ½ minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon take them out to a plate covered in kitchen paper to eliminate some of the oil and serve immediately while hot,
Tips for perfect gambas en gabardina
- If you do not like or can not drink beer, you can use carbonated water instead. Both ingredients are important for a crunchy batter.
- Saffron can be replaced with food coloring in case you do not have it at home.
- Depending on the flour you use, the amount of milk to be added may vary. When using AP flour/plain flour less milk will be needed to reach the desired consistency than if using bread flour/strong flour. This is due to their different absorption capacity.
- The cooking time for frying the shrimps will ultimately depend on their size. Be careful not to overfry the shrimp to get the best results; thoroughly dry shrimps are simply not that nice.
- Best eat the shrimps freshly made, while the outside is crunchy and the inside is juicy.
These gambas en gabardina are perfect as an appetizer before any meal. They are great served with alioli sauce (garlic mayonnaise) and match well any cold drink but, without a doubt, a good cold beer or a vermouth are our choice. Enjoy!