You might recall in the run-up to SlapFish’s grand opening in Huntington Beach, partners Andrew Gruel and Jethro Naude solicited recipe submissions for a contest wherein the winning preparation would be served in their “modern fish shack.” A nice bonus was free-eating rights for the winner, as long as his or her dish remained on the menu—which might be four months or so, until another dish takes its place.
After evaluating more than 125 recipes, a winner was named: Costa Mesa resident Michael Harris’ Gambas a la Plancha, a spicy take on a classic Iberian dish whose name means “shrimp on the iron.” I met Harris at the SlapFish media preview (there’s a photo of him with a plancha of his winning dish at right), and he was nice enough to share the recipe with Taste of Orange County. (You can read my report on the preview—including news of a second SlapFish already in the works, here.)
If these gambas remind you of tapas, there’s a reason: Harris spent time in Spain with his parents—both extremely proficient and curious cooks, he says—and “the genesis of this dish is Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, the famous pedestrian street through the middle of town, with tapas places everywhere.”
Harris told me when he heard about the contest, he knew this dish would be perfect for SlapFish—fast, fresh, simple. “Best made in a well-seasoned cast-iron pan,” he notes. I thought entering such a bold, uncluttered dish showed a lot of confidence, and Harris says, “I like working with seasonal, local ingredients, and never more than five of them. The gambas recipe is a great example of how I cook.” Clearly, the SlapFish guys recognized a kindred cooking spirit when they saw one.
Michael Harris’ Gambas a la Plancha
(Makes 4 to 6 appetizer servings)
¼ cup good olive oil
1 pound peeled, deveined shrimp
Kosher or sea salt
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
Juice of one large lemon
In a cast-iron pan, heat the oil on high until nearly smoking. Toss in shrimp, making sure each has room to lie flat. Salt generously.
Sear about 1 minute, toss in garlic and red pepper. Flip each shrimp over and salt again. Sear 1 additional minute, tossing to distribute seasonings.
Remove from heat, squeeze lemon over shrimp, and serve.