The Triton


Recipe for Gambas al Pil Pil


In the mid-90s, I had the opportunity to operate at 70-foot cockpit motor yacht in Spain. One of the lessons learned was the appreciation of tapas. Like pupus in Hawaii, tapas are canapés or appetizers, typically served with an alcoholic beverage before a meal or even between courses.

Al pil-pil (pronounced peel-peel) describes a style of sauce and originates from the Basque region. This spicy garlic shrimp appetizer is real simple to create and is prodigious finger food.



1 1⁄2 pounds large raw shrimp, peeled (except tails), deveined

1⁄3 cup extra virgin olive oil

5 medium garlic cloves, crushed and minced

1 tbsp. crushed red pepper

1 1⁄4 tsp. Spanish paprika

4 tbsp. dry sherry

3⁄4 tsp. sea salt

1 1⁄2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley


Because the cooking of this dish happens rather quickly, preparing the ingredients in advance brings the dish together flawlessly. Combine the garlic and red pepper flakes and set aside.

Chop and measure the parsley and set aside.

In a bowl, toss the paprika and shrimp until shrimp are well coated.

Bring a cast iron skillet to medium heat. Once hot, add EVOO and allow a minute to heat up. Add minced garlic/red pepper flakes and cook for one minute, stirring continuously. Turn heat to high and add shrimp/paprika and sherry. Turn shrimp a couple of times and sauté until shrimp are pink.

Garnish with salt, pepper and chopped parsley. Be sure to have a piece of bread to sop up this delicious sauce.


Capt. John Wampler has worked on yachts big and small for more than 25 years. He’s created a repertoire of quick, tasty meals for crew to prepare for themselves to give the chef a break. Contact him through Comments on this column are welcome at

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