Culinary File

This is our version of the classic gambas al ajillo. First, we keep the shells on the prawns and butterfly them. We also make a saor, a sweet and sour lime sauce of Venetian origin. Last, we brown the butter the prawns are cooked in to give it a deep, nutty flavor. Be sure to have some good bread on hand to soak up the delicious sauce!


  • 8          large prawns, shell-on, butterflied
  • 2          large garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1          fresh hot pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup  chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup  unsalted butter
  • 1          portion of lime saor sauce*


  • Season the prawns generously with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Heat the butter in a pan large enough to easily hold all the prawns; if you don’t have such a pan you can do it in batches.
  • Add the prawns, flesh-side down, and cook on high heat until the butter begins to brown. By this time, the prawns should be about half cooked.
  • Reduce the heat to medium, turn the prawns and add the hot pepper and garlic; shake the pan and baste the prawns as they cook—this is the most fun part!
  • After a minute of basting, add the parsley.
  • Now the prawns should be almost cooked. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the saor. Shake the pan to make sure everything is combined nicely.
  • Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy while hot.

*Saor sauce: Juice three limes and measure the quantity of juice. Combine with equal amounts by volume each of sugar and water. Put into a non-reactive saucepan and cook on medium heat until you have a thin syrup consistency. Cool and reserve. This part can be done hours or days in advance.