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Pan-Fried Spicy Shrimp with Romesco Sauce

Easy 20-minute Mediterranean tapas recipe

Written By: Byron | July 5, 2023
pan-fried spicy shrimp with romesco sauce

Pan-fried Spicy Shrimp with Romesco Sauce is a quick and easy recipe that is ideal for serving as a tasty tapas or as finger food. Spicy pan-fried shrimp covered in plenty of cayenne and spice pair perfectly with a rich and smoky romesco sauce that’s made with smoked red peppers, tomato, garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. 

This recipe comes together in around 20 minutes and is great served either hot or cold. As a tapas, this recipe makes 4 servings (3 shrimp per person), but scale this recipe as you need. Romesco sauce can be made in batches in advance and will store in the fridge for up to four days. Always best served with plenty of fresh bread as the tasty sauce deserves a good mop-up.

Seafood| Romesco Sauce Recipe | Summer | Shrimp Recipe | Easy Recipe | Tapas Recipe | Healthy | Mediterranean Recipe | Made in 20 Minutes

Serving:

Tapas 4 servings

Ready in:

20 mins

Skill level:

Easy

Serve with:

Fresh bread

a plate of shrimp sit beside other ingredients and spices used to make pan-fried spicy Shrimp with romesco sauce.

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How to make pan-fried spicy shrimp with romesco sauce 

Ingredients for the spicy shrimp

  • 12 large raw shrimp (around 1 pound/450grams) 
  • 1 baguette 
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed Nora Peppers (or sub for cayenne pepper if you prefer more spicy) 
  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped 
  • ½ lemon (for serving)

Ingredients for the Romesco Sauce

Makes approx. 7 fl. Oz. / 200ml 

  • 3.5 oz. (100g) blanched almonds
  • 3.5 oz. (100g) roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
  • 4-5 tablespoons of tomato paste (or 2 grated tomatoes)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar, plus extra to season (optional).
  • 1/2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (e.g: La Española)
  • ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili flakes (optional if you want spicy)

Equipment needed

Method

Step 1 – Make romesco sauce

  • In a dry pan, lightly toast the blanched almonds on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir well to stop them from burning. Allow almonds to cool before moving on to the next step.
  • In a blender or food processor, add the roasted red peppers, tomato, garlic, vinegar, and smoked paprika, as well as the toasted almonds.
  • Buzz for 3 minutes or until smooth.
  • With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. A good texture should slowly drip from a spoon.
  • Season with some salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Add some spice with some crushed chili or cayenne pepper as you like.
  • Transfer sauce into a bowl for use later. 

Step 2 – Prepare and fry shrimp

  • Remove the head and shells down to the tail. Keep the tail on as they are handy for dipping into the sauce later. 
  • Use a sharp knife to cut lengthways down the top spine of the shrimp. Remove the vein and rinse your cleaned shrimp in some fresh water. Pat dry on some paper towel before cooking.
  • Add a splash of oil to a skillet and heat until hot. 
  • Cook the shrimp on both sides for around 5 minutes or until they have turned opaque and pink/red in color.
  • Remove from the heat and sprinkle some cayenne pepper or Nora pepper flakes over them. Set cooked shrimp aside.

Step 3 – Plate and serve

  • Cut or break up some baguette and add to a plate or platter. 
  • Add the shrimp and romesco sauce. 
  • Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, season to taste with some salt and pepper,  and serve with a squeeze of lemon.

 Watch step-by-step recipe video

If you’re looking for this recipe’s video and many other great recipe ideas, why not check out our Spanish Radish YouTube Channel? We’ve got everything from quick and easy tapas recipes, delicious main meals, and incredible Spanish dessert options too.

Best shrimp to use

Use large raw shrimp that are between 31/35 (large) size, 26/30 (extra large), and 21/25 (jumbo) sizes. These numbers you see when buying shrimp refer to approximately how many shrimp per pound. For this recipe, allow 3-4 shrimp per person for a tapas serving.

Raw shrimp

Uncooked raw shrimp are slightly blue in color and their shells will change to a striking red color when cooked. Shrimp are also sold cooked so ask your fishmonger before you buy your shrimp to make sure you get raw shrimp. 

Using frozen shrimp

You can use frozen shrimp for this recipe. You will need to thaw the shrimp before you can prepare them. Submerge your frozen shrimp in a large bowl of cold water with a little salt added to the water. They should thaw at room temperature in around 45 minutes. 

Many fishmongers and supermarkets will sell shrimp frozen and you’ll often find them in boxes with around 2.2 pound (1kg) of shrimp. Frozen shrimp use the same size grading system as raw shrimp. The one disadvantage to buying frozen shrimp is you’ll likely need to buy the box, instead of just what you need.

How to peel and devein shrimp

For this recipe, you’ll need to remove the head and shell of the shrimp. We keep the last part of the shell near the tail, as this is handy for eating and dipping the shrimp in the romesco sauce. 

Here’s a quick 2-minute video on how to peel and devein shrimp (the easy way).

Once you’ve followed the steps in the video, you’re ready to start cooking!

A shrimp on a skewer is dipped into some romesco sauce.

What is Romesco sauce?

Romesco sauce is a tomato and red pepper-based sauce that hails from the Catalonia region on Spain’s east coast. Romesco is made with roasted bell (or ñora peppers), tomatoes, garlic, toasted almonds, olive oil, cracked black pepper, and smoked paprika. Flour or breadcrumbs are occasionally used to thicken the sauce or add texture.

The sauce is very flavorsome although not spicy, and it has a warm smoked flavor that pairs well with many ingredients. 

Serving suggestions

Romesco is often used to flavor fish and seafood dishes, and occasionally meat dishes. Perhaps one of the most famous uses for Romesco sauce is with calçots (a type of green onion) that is ceremoniously barbecued to mark the start of warmer weather after winter.

Homemade Romesco Sauce 

Never buy romesco sauce again with this super-easy 10-minute romesco sauce recipe. There’s virtually no cooking required and you can dial up the amount of spice to cater to your specific recipe needs and taste!

A small bowl of romesco sauce sits with a jar full of romesco sauce in the background

What are Ñora peppers

Ñora peppers are small, round, red peppers that are used to add flavor to Spanish rice dishes, stews (cocidos). Ñora peppers are most commonly found in Valencian rice dishes such as paella (including seafood paella) and fideua dishes (like fideua with seafood). 

Ñora peppers have a strong smoky flavor and are used dried — they’re air-dried and then sold either whole, flaked, or ground. They are more common in Spanish cuisine compared to the typical red chili, although they are not considered spicy, with just 500 SHU (Scoville Heat Units).

FAQs and Cooking Tips

Can romesco sauce be made without nuts?

Yes, it sure can. Simply omit the roasted almonds and substitute for some seeds of choice and breadcrumbs.  

How long does this recipe take to make?

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 5 minutes
  • Total time: 20 minutes

How long will homemade romesco sauce keep in the fridge?

Refrigerate in an airtight container or sealable jar for up to 4 days. 

Can I roast my own peppers instead of using tinned peppers?

Yes, roasting your own peppers is a great idea and only adds around 45 minutes of cooking time to this recipe. If you’re short on time, using tinned or jarred roasted peppers is a convenient option. 

Can romesco sauce be frozen?

Yes, freeze in an airtight container and it will keep for up to six months. 

What shrimp to use for this recipe?

Use raw large, extra-large, or jumbo-size shrimp for this recipe. Allow 3 shrimp per serving for a tapas or appetizer.

pan-fried spicy shrimp with romesco sauce
pan-fried spicy shrimp with romesco sauce

Pan-Fried Spicy Shrimp with Romesco Sauce (20-min tapas)

Byron
Pan-fried Spicy Shrimp with Romesco Sauce is a quick and easy recipe that is ideal for serving as a tasty tapas or as finger food. Spicy pan-fried shrimp covered in plenty of cayenne and spice pair perfectly with a rich and smoky romesco sauce that’s made with smoked red peppers, tomato, garlic, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course appertizer, seafood, starter, tapas
Cuisine Authentic Spanish recipe, Mediterranean, Spain
Servings 4 tapas
Calories 412 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 12 inch/30cm skillet
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • 1 sharp knife and chopping board
  • 1 food processor or blender

Ingredients

Ingredients for the spicy shrimp

  • 12 large raw shrimp around 1 pound/450grams
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 teaspoon of crushed Nora Peppers or sub for cayenne pepper if you prefer more spicy
  • Handful of fresh parsley chopped
  • ½ lemon for serving

Ingredients for the Romesco Sauce (Makes approx. 7 fl. Oz. / 200ml)

  • 3.5 oz. 100g blanched almonds
  • 3.5 oz. 100g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained
  • 4-5 tablespoons of tomato paste or 2 grated tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar plus extra to season (optional).
  • 1/2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil e.g: La Española
  • ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili flakes optional if you want spicy

Instructions
 

Step 1 - Make romesco sauce

  • In a dry pan, lightly toast the blanched almonds on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Stir well to stop them from burning. Allow almonds to cool before moving on to the next step.
    3.5 oz. 100g blanched almonds
    toasted almonds in a large frying pan
  • In a blender or food processor, add the roasted red peppers, tomato, garlic, vinegar, and smoked paprika, as well as the toasted almonds.
    3.5 oz. 100g roasted red peppers from a jar, drained, 4-5 tablespoons of tomato paste, 2 garlic cloves, 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar, 1/2 tsp of sweet smoked paprika
    ingredients for romesco sauce sits in. a blender
  • Buzz for 3 minutes or until smooth.
    ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or chili flakes
    Blended romesco sauce in a blender
  • With the food processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to achieve the desired consistency. A good texture should slowly drip from a spoon.
    3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
    A small bowl of romesco sauce sits with a jar full of romesco sauce in the background
  • Season with some salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Add some spice with some crushed chili or cayenne pepper as you like. Transfer sauce into a bowl for use later.
    A small bowl of romesco sauce sits with a jar full of romesco sauce in the background

Step 2 - Prepare and fry shrimp

  • Remove the head and shells down to the tail. Keep the tail on as they are handy for dipping into the sauce later. Use a sharp knife to cut lengthways down the top spine of the shrimp. Remove the vein and rinse your cleaned shrimp in some fresh water. Pat dry on some paper towel before cooking.
    12 large raw shrimp
    a shrimp is peeled
  • Add a splash of oil to a skillet and heat until hot.
    some oil is added to a non-stick frying pan.
  • Cook the shrimp on both sides for around 5 minutes or until they have turned opaque and pink/red in color. Remove from the heat and sprinkle some cayenne pepper or Nora pepper flakes over them. Set cooked shrimp aside.
    1 teaspoon of crushed Nora Peppers
    pan-fried shrimp

Step 3 - Plate and serve

  • Cut or break up some baguette and add to a plate or platter.
    1 baguette
    Some fresh bread pieces are added to a platter with pan-fried shrimp and romesco sauce.
  • Add the shrimp and romesco sauce.
    Some fresh bread pieces are added to a platter with pan-fried shrimp and romesco sauce.
  • Garnish with some fresh chopped parsley, season to taste with some salt and pepper, and serve with a squeeze of lemon.
    ½ lemon, Handful of fresh parsley
    pan-fried spicy shrimp with romesco sauce

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 100gCalories: 412kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 15.4gFat: 24.3gSaturated Fat: 2.8gCholesterol: 35mgSodium: 414mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 5.1gSugar: 3.7gCalcium: 129mgIron: 4mg
Keyword 30 minute recipe, Easy tapas, Romesco Sauce, shrimp, Spanish tapas
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Byron - The Spanish Radish crew

Byron is the wearer of many hats here at The Spanish Radish. He's the design creative, author, lead recipe developer, food photographer, and digital content creator for the Spanish Radish team. When he's not busy making new recipes, he's out hiking with his dog or exploring the beauty that Spain has to offer.