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THE STORY

 

Party appetizers pose a real quandary for me. I grew up in a culture where, during a party, appetizers are served together with the main dishes. They are also generally hot. Cold appetizers and crudites are not considered part of any meal at all.

 

Whenever I go to a really good, authentic Spanish restaurant, gambas are always my favorite way to start. This takes inspiration from that, and is my go to whenever I need to whip up a quick something to go with cocktails when friends are coming over. It pairs well with margaritas, mojitos, wine, and pretty much most mixed drinks you can think of. As is shown in the picture, I usually serve it with olive oil soaked, pan grilled baguettes that guests can dip in the savory sauce.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 lb. shrimp

  • 1/2 lb. calamari (or octopus)

  • 1/2 lb. sea scallops

  • Chorizo

  • 1 head of garlic, minced.

  • 1 tbsp. capers

  • Lemon rind, peeled and minced

  • 1 tbsp. paprika

  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 tsp. saffron

  • 1/4 tsp. cumin

  • 1/4 tsp. ginger

  • 1/4 cup dry white wine

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

 

Prepare the ingredients. Remove heads and devein the shrimp. Clean the calamari/octopus well and slice into strips. Slice the chorizo into round strips. Peel and mince a full head of garlic. Using a peeler or paring knife, peel the rind off lemon and mince.

In a shallow pan over medium heat add spices: paprika, red pepper flakes, saffron, cumin and ginger. Toast for a minute.

 

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chorizo until the fat renders. Add garlic, then shrimp, calamari or octopus and scallops and lemon rind. Add wine and stir. Add capers. Salt and pepper to taste. WARNING: DO NOT OVERCOOK! Just saute until shrimp turns color, and scallops and calamari are more opaque and firmer but not rubbery. If desired, add some chopped parsley to garnish. You can drizzle a little olive oil over the top, too. And if you want an extra kick of flavor, use an infused one –like blood orange or Persian lime– from The Olive Tree of Long Island. Or used aromatic salt from Hamptons Salt!

 

This is good served with grilled, sliced baguette that your guests can dunk in the sauce. But no double dipping, please!

 

(You may notice that I only used the lemon rind. That’s because for this recipe, I only wanted the fragrant brightness of the lemon without its tartness overpowering the earthy-nutty flavor of the spices. But that’s me. You can squeeze a tablespoon of lemon in there, and that would be just as wonderful.)

MARISCOS MIXTOS

In Case You Want to Know

 

Saffron appears in Moorish, Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Its most common function is to colour rice yellow, as in festive Indian pilaus and risotto Milanese, where its delicate flavour make it the most famous of Italian rice dishes. It combines well with fish and seafood, infamous as a key ingredient of Spanish paella as well as bouillabaisse. In England, saffron is probably best known for its use in Cornish saffron buns where it is paired with dried fruit in a yeast cake. More