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36. Gerry Dawes's Spain: An Insider's Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel

"My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless crisscrossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country's culinary life. . .” - - Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of Mercado Little Spain at Hudson Yards, New York 2019


Gerry’s Dishes: Langostinos Cocidos (or a la Plancha) con Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise

* * * * *
(Recipes from the first broadcast on the Gerry's Dishes segment of Gerry Dawes & Friends, a weekly radio program on WPWL 103.7 FM Pawling Public Radio in Pawling, New York.)

 Gerry’s Dishes: Langostinos Cocidos con Aioli

I cook every night that I am at home and I will share the results of successful dishes on Gerry Dawes & Friends and the Gerry Dawes & Friends Facebook page. I will also post the photos and recipes of the dishes on the WPWL Pawling (NY) Public Raido website and on my Gerry’s Dishes Facebook page.

Raúl Aleixandre's Technique for Cooking Shrimp 

Raúl Aleixandre, formerly the Chef-owner at Ca Sento in Valencia, Spain taught me this technique. I get very good heads-on langostinos, prawns from Restaurant Depot in Newburgh, New York.

One dozen heads-on shrimp or prawns.
Coarse sea salt
Pot or pan with enough water to cover the shrimp
(preferably fresh shrimp or prawns with the heads still on).

Sometimes, I use frozen or refreshed shrimp from Ace Endico or DeCicco’s in Southeast or even purchased from local supermarkets. Nevertheless, the technique is the same and works well even without fresh shrimp. 

Put the shrimp a bowl in ice water with sea salt for ten minutes or put frozen shrimp in a bowl of water with sea salt for half an hour or more before cooking. 

Heat a pot or pan with enough water to hold all the shrimp, but do not let the water reach a full boil, just a simmer. 

Put all the shrimp you plan to cook in the water at once and set a timer for no more than five minutes, depending upon the size of the shrimp or prawns. Cooking properly may take 3 -5 minutes. 

Never let the water return to boil, just watch the vapors coming off the hot water and when they return to the state they were before you put the shrimp in, turn the flame off. 

Watch the shrimp turn a rosy color, then take out the shrimp with a slotted spoon and put them on a platter in a single layer. For a lot of shrimp you may need more than one platter, but the idea is to keep them in a single layer, so they do not keep cooking from their own heat. 

Let the shrimp cool a bit before serving, so you can peel them without burning your fingers. Put out a bowl for the shells. 

You can keep any prawns or shrimp cooked this way in the refrigerator for a couple of days. 

I also sometimes pat the shrimp dry in a paper towel and do them a la plancha style, but since I do not have a plancha-type grill, I grill them in their shells in a cast-iron skillet with a little Spanish extra virgin Olive Oil and some coarse sea salt, turning them once until the are cooked, but not overcooked. 

 Langostinos a la Plancha, done in a cast-iron skillet doubling as a plancha grill.

Gerry’s Aioli (Garlic Mayonnaise)

 Aioli (garlic mayonnaise)

Make an aioli* to serve with the shrimp as a dipping sauce. (Or serve a good cocktail sauce if you prefer or do both.)

(*Real aioli has no eggs, just olive oil, garlic and salt. If you make it like real back country Catalans and some do in Barcelona, it will curl your eyebrows, with its industrial strength pungency.)

I make aioli with a blender. If you enjoy martyrdom, you can do it in a mixing bowl with a whisk. 

1 fresh raw egg
splash of Chinese red chili oil
1-2 cloves of good quality garlic
1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
Sea Salt (salt to taste)
I -2 Tbs lime juice or 1 Tb lime juice
1 cup Trader Joe's Extra Virgen Olive Oil

(Optional: add saffron to the mixture while blending or cilantro (not stems) or basil or make the aioli, spoon out some and mix in whatever herb you might want to flavor it with. My next stunt with aioli is going to be blending in romesco sauce (made with hazelnuts, almonds, nyora (or ancho) peppers, paprika, parsley, and Spanish pimentón [the best paprika in the world].)

Put a fresh, raw egg in the blender, add a splash of Tabasco sauce or Chinese red chili oil, which is what I use, and one to two cloves of fresh garlic, depending upon how much you like garlic. 

Add a teaspoon sea salt and a tablespoon of Dijon-style mustard (classic Spanish aioli recipes do not call for the mustard, but I use it and love it).

Start the blender and mix those ingredients and puree the garlic. 

Remove the small top cap from the center of the blender, start the blender on the blend setting and begin slowly adding about a cup of Spanish extra virgin olive oil – I use Trader Joe’s at $7.99 per liter--to the egg, chili oil, sea salt and garlic mixture. 

When you have added about half the olive and the mixture begins to thicken, add 1 Tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice or 1-2 Tablespoons of lime juice (lime is my preference, in Spain, cooks would use lemon) to taste. 

After the citrus juice is integrated, continue adding olive oil until the aioli gets thick and smooth. Your blender will tell you that it is about to choke, so shut it off and mix any un-integrated olive oil with a spatula. 

Pour and scrape with a spatula the aioli into a Pyrex type bowl with a cover, one that you can also use to serve the aioli with a spoon. 

Refrigerate until ready to use. I keep my aioli for about a week in the fridge, if it lasts that long at our house. 

Spoon some aioli onto your plate and dip the peeled shrimp into the spooned out dollop of aioli.  Do not dip your shrimp into the aioli bowl, not if you want to use the remainder again with another dish. 

Paco Dovalo's artisanal Cabaleiro do Val Albariño 2013 (or any other vintage from this great bodega) from Rías Baixas in Galicia is a superb match for this dish. Available from the Spanish Artisan Wine & Spirits Group (e-mail for more information.
Paco Dovalo, President of the Asociación de Bodegas Artesanas, and Gerry Dawes 
at the Encontro de Viño de Autor in Meaño.

Again, this recipe for shrimp with aioli (and other dishes that I make) can be found on my Gerry Dawes & Friends and Gerry’s Dishes Facebook pages and on my blog, Gerry Dawes’s Spain: An Insider’s Guide to Spanish Food, Wine, Culture and Travel at

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 About Gerry Dawes

 Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.

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