There are multiple varieties of prawns, of many different qualities, in Spain.
The highest quality, with great gastronomic value, are the prawns from Costa de Huelva, in Andalucía, southern Spain – known as ‘Gambas de Huelva’ in Spanish.
Also called ‘Gambas Blancas de Huelva’ (‘blancas’ means white), this crustacean has a long and well developed abdomen/body (and damn tasty too!) which is larger than the head. These prawns are a National and European benchmark.
They are captured on the Atlantic coast of Andalusia, in the Gulf of Cadiz, particularly on the coast of Isla Cristina, where 95% of the boats catch this particular prawn, all of which are caught entirely by hand.
When you try ‘Gambas de Huelva’, you will notice the difference from other prawns from other areas. It’s meat is highly prized. The most common way of eating them is simply cooked or char-grilled, sprinkled with coarse sea salt. The fewer ingredients, the better.
They may not be the cheapest of seafood, but locals affirm it’s a taste you shall never forget, a delicate but flavorsome prawn that will blossom your taste buds.
Recipes with Gambas de Huelva
Cooked Gambas de Huelva
White prawns from Huelva
Sea salt (the coarse/fat kind)
Mineral water (always use for cooking)
1) Put plenty of water to boil.
2) When the water is bubbling add the prawns. As you add them you will notice that the bubbling will stop. When the prawns in the water begin to boil again, remove them from the heat and drain the water using a sieve.
3) In a platter/plate/tray place your prawns and lightly sprinkle them with coarse salt. Place them in in the freezer (in a place where the prawns will get cold all over) for 20 minutes.
4) When the time is up, put your prawns onto a serving platter and cover with a cloth/kitchen paper and put them in the fridge. Take them out when you are ready to eat them.
Chargrilled Gambas de Huelva
Note. this recipe serves 4 people
1 kg of fresh (uncooked) Gambas de Huelva – get more if you are feeding hungry mouths
1 dash of extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt (Maldon salt works)
1/2 lemon (optional)
1) If you have a grill, great. If not, use a pan. Heat up your grill/pan and when it is hot, splash olive oil and add the prawns to your grill/pan.
2) After 1 minute, turn the prawns and sprinkle a good bunch of coarse sea salt over them. You can sprinkle them with juice of half a lemon (this is optional). Do not cook the prawns for more than a minute each side.
3) That’s it – Serve freshly made. Enjoy!
Potato salad with Gambas de Huelva
Spanish potato salads are a very common ‘tapa’ (the Spanish culture of sharing many small portions of food). It is locally know as ensaladilla rusa (which translate to ‘Russian salad’, despite having nothing to do with Russian cuisine or culture) and has multiple ways of preparation. Different ingredients are used, depending what region of Spain it is served in and also depending on personal likes and tastes.
Here is a recipe for a tasty Spanish potato salad with white prawns from Huelva – the delicious edition.
Note. this recipe is for 4 people
1 kg new potatoes
1 carrot (optional)
1/2 -1 Kg of white prawns from Huelva – ‘gambas de huelva’
A lot of mayonnaise
Salt (to taste)
Water (for boiling your ingredients)
1) Peel the prawns and toss the heads and shells in a pot of boiling water.
2) As it turns into broth, peel and cut your potatoes. When the heads have released all their juices, strain the broth and cook the potatoes in it . Add some more water (if necessary) and salt.
3) When we potatoes are cooked, add the (uncooked) prawns; they don’t take more than a minute to cook. After, drain both the potatoes and prawns.
4) Crush the potatoes with a fork, without actually mashing them into purée and cut your prawns into pieces (you can save some for garnish). Mix everything adding salt and a lot of mayonnaise (add minimum 4-5 table spoons).
5) Put it in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. You are then ready to taste this exquisite ‘prawn salad’.
Note: You can also add a carrot to the recipe, proceeding with it as with potatoes. You can also add peas, boiled eggs or tuna, but it depends on your tastes. Enjoy!
Furthermore, if you are a keen traveller and Andalucía, southern Spain, is a place you are planning to visit, don’t forget to visit Huelva and taste these gambas served and cooked by locals.
“Es un pecado venir a Huelva y no probar las gambas” – it’s a sin to come to Huelva and not taste the gambas!
Welcome to Andalucía!