Gambas (King Prawns) from Palamós, Spain


Gambas from Palamós are famous throughout Spain and prized for their flavour and size.  If you have had an opportunity to sample these delicious creatures of the sea, you may understand why people even suck the juice out of the heads and shells, ensuring that they savour every last morsel.

The Palamós fishermen start their day early, heading out to sea before dawn.  Most return in the early afternoon in time for lunch before unloading their catch and carrying it to the building, “La llotja”,   where they hold the daily wholesale fish auction.  The Palamós auction opens at 4.00pm on Monday to Friday of each week. A conveyor passes the crates of fish and seafood fish into the auction room from an area that opens onto the docks where the fishermen have moored their boats.

The action in the bidding room is alive with energy and there is a sense of urgency and tension in the air, with a pressure to keep the fish moving as fast as possible, due to the commercial stakes involved.  The auction brings together two groups of people, both involved in fish, but in entirely different manners.   It is the end of the day for the fishermen, but the start of the day for the fish shop owners.

The fresh fish, many of them still alive, in their plastic crates, move steadily along on the conveyor belt, pausing only slightly to allow the bids of buyers.  The auctioneer calls out the bids for the crate being considered and at the same time the bid appears on an overhead electronic display. The buyers sit in chairs on ascending rows that overlook the conveyor and to make a bid, they simply press the button next to their chair.  Their identification number is automatically transmitted to the computerized system, having already activated the station where they sit with a personalized key.  Only registered buyers can participate and the process is incredibly efficient and organized

Once having completed their deals, the buyers take the fish straight to the local shops for sale. If you want to be sure your dinner is of Palamos King Prawns caught that day, go early, but do not be surprised to find a queue, as the shops commence selling around 6.30pm and their stock is rapidly diminished.

Gambas or King Prawns/Shrimp such as those sold at the Palamós auction exist up and down the Catalan coast, but many believe that the flavour depends on both the general region and the specific place in which they are caught.  Several gamba species are found in the area but when people speak of Palamós gambas they are referring to the popular red gambas, which are also classified by size into three or four categories;  the larger the gamba, the higher the price.

Palamos Gambas or King Prawn/Shrimp are incredibly expensive, but prices fluctuate according to supply and when the fishermen bring in a larger catch the price falls.   But watch out for Fiesta Days and Weekends, especially in the summertime, when these little honeys are so prized that the price can easily double!

Our private Mediterranean Cuisine Tour can be customized to include a foray into the Palamos fish market and fish museum, as well as a visit to la Llotja ( the fish auction)- a wonderful opportunity to experience something  truly authentic.