Tortilla de Camarones

It’s easy to get in a rut when dining in Spain.  However, Spanish cuisine is incredibly varied when you decide to extend beyond the staples.  Factor in that most of Spain is bordered by the sea and it increases your chances of finding something you had never heard of.  On my last trip there, one such discovery was the tortilla de camarones.  When my wife told me, according to her pre trip research, that the place in Sanlúcar in which we were seated was famous for them, I was skeptical.  Shrimp in a tortilla?  It sounded kind of low on the texture scale.  Plus, I’m a tortilla purist and the thought of sticking anything other than the essentials (egg, potato, onion) in a tortilla is just a distraction.  Luckily, a couple of tables down, the folks ordered an unidentified plate of something heaping and fried and it piqued my curiosity.  I went to the counter at Casa Balbino and ordered a plate of the tortilla de camarones for two and another couple glasses of La Gitana.  I waited and was greeted with this:

Tortilla de Camarones
Tortilla de Camarones

It’s not a tortilla in the classic sense but an incredibly airy, perfectly seasoned, fried nest of whole baby shrimp.  The crunch of the batter mixed with the shell of the shrimp reminded me of softshell crab – without the unfortunate mush that sometimes accompanies the latter.  It was incredible.  The Manzanilla cut though the grease perfectly and I had no problem devouring the majority of the plate.  My wife enjoyed it as well but is not quite as adventurous of an eater as I am especially when it comes to baby shellfish.  Still, she said she loved it.  (Maybe I just didn’t give her a chance to eat more!)

Spain is a big country and the amount of culinary diversity is immense.  Tortilla de camarones is a standout, however.  If you ever find yourself in a restaurant where it is served, order it – and don’t forget the manzanilla.

4 thoughts on “Tortilla de Camarones

  1. Hi,

    I read your piece on Tortilla de Camarones. It is indeed an unusual dish but quite delicious. I am hoping to go to Sanlucar de barrameda in the next week or so, and I always make a few visits to Casa Balbino. I have the good fortune to own a house in Sanlucar. At the risk of sounding like a salesman, here’s a link to it:

    Good to see you spreading the word on this facinating area of the ‘real’, less discovered Spain.

    By the way, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in Prague myself and the food there is pretty damn good. I remember Palfy (?) Palace being a particular gem.

    Best regards,


  2. I´m from Sanlúcar, and we have the best “tortillitas de camarones”, but you have to go to Casa Balbino like you say!! There you find the best!!

  3. We have a thread re this on my FB page. My grandmother used to make these delicious things when I was a kid in Brooklyn. She came here from Cadiz in early 1900’s and there is a pic of the dish on the Cadiz Wikipedia page. How was it made when you had it?

    I remember a light flour batter with parsley, chopped shrimp and onions mostly, maybe with very little garlic, deep fried to a light golden color, but not so crispy as your photo. More the consistency inside like an Italian Zeopple. She made many other dishes I haven’t seen in most Spanish restaurants here in the US.

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