The Red Shrimp of Denia

The secret of the Dénia shrimp is not in being caught in its waters, or sold in its fish market, it is in the quality and respect that the people of Dénia feel for this delicate fruit of the sea.


Experts say that the best way to cook these shrimp is to boil them in their liquid element: sea water. The salinity will help them keep all their juices and not give up their essence to the cooking water.

A large (prime) shrimp needs 2 minutes in 80 degree water. As it is not easy to guarantee exactly this temperature at home, the best way is to put sea water on the fire, when it starts to boil, turn it off and add the shrimps. This stops the boiling and lowers it to the desired temperature. Keep them for 2 minutes and remove them, being careful not to break them, to submerge them again but this time in cold sea water. This is how we cut the cooking time. As recommended by Quique Dacosta, the shrimp should be served at 15 degrees. If sea water is not available, we can use mineral water with sea salt in a proportion of 20 grams of salt per liter of water.

The magic of the Dénia shrimp lies in the way it is enjoyed by its people, and the care with which they treat it. But be careful, if you are lucky enough to be invited to eat prawns in Dénia, never, I repeat, never use the cutlery, always with your hands, and suck the head as if your life depended on it. If not, they will make the most dreadful fool of themselves.


red shrimp of Denia, bohosuitesdenia

The red shrimp of Denia, the first delicacy in the world with soundtrack


It is a symphonic work of 18 minutes, composed by Javier Pinto and will be performed next Saturday by the Agrupació Artística Musical de Dénia.

Chef Quique Dacosta, whose restaurant in Denia has three Michelin stars, has participated in the process of composing the work.


first food with soundtrack in Denia, bohosuitesdenia


The main composer of the work is Javier Pinto, a member of the aforementioned musical group, who collected the sounds of the boats, the sea, the kitchen, and gathered all the necessary information to make the Dénia red shrimp sound, a task that has lasted two months.

The soundtrack of the Red Shrimp of Denia”, was presented on Saturday, January 15, 2017 at the Social Center of Denia, a piece in three acts that has been inspired by the processes that surround the star gastronomic product of the capital of the Alicante region of the Marina Alta. That day, the centenary Agrupació Artística Musical de Dénia, which has fishermen and cooks in its ranks, was in charge of performing this 18-minute symphonic work written entirely for wind band and percussion, under the baton of its conductor, the Belgian Frank de Vuyst.

pinto and dacosta creators of the red shrimp BSO, bohosuitesdenia





This is a firm commitment of the public-private sector to achieve greater recognition and dissemination of the gastronomic product and also enable the launch and promotion of young chefs who are committed to creative cuisine.

The Department of Tourism of the City Council of Denia with the collaboration of the Association of Hotel and Tourism Entrepreneurs of the Marina Alta (AEHTMA), the Fishermen’s Guild and various collaborators are responsible for organizing this event.

poster announcing the 6th international competition of the red shrimp of denia, bohosuitesdenia

participants of the 6th contest of the red shrimp of Denia, bohosuitesdenia

The PREJURYcomposed of Rafa Soler (director of the competition), Quique Dacosta (chef Quique Dacosta Restaurante), Diego Mena (Rte. Mena), Fernando González (Grupo El Raset), Pepa Font (councillor for agreements and collaborations Ciudad Creativa Gastronomía), Federico Guajardo (chef Hotel Los Ángeles) and José Manuel López (chef Rte. Peix i Brases), gathered last February 9 chose, from among the more than 70 entries to the 6th International Creative Cooking Competition of the Red Prawn of Denia, to thefollowing FINALISTS :

  • Mr. Antonio Villaescusa, rte. MAESTRAL (Alicante)
  • Mr. José Primo, rte. LA BORDA D’COSTA (Puerto Sagunto, Valencia)
  • Mr. Lorenzo Anchelergues, rte. LILLAS PASTIA (Huesca)
  • Mr. Ismael Cano, rte. VENTA DEL SOTÓN (Esquedas, Huesca)
  • Mr. Antonio Rubio, rte. MESÓN CAMPERO (Linares, Jaén)
  • Mr. Hugo Sabater, rte. EL BOHÍO (Illescas, Toledo)
  • Mr. José Luis Adán, rte. BENARÉS (Madrid)
  • Mr. José Carlos López, rte. ORIGIN OF JOSE CARLOS GAMIZ (Puigcerdá, Girona)

If you want to enjoy a “gastronomic” atmosphere in the Municipal Market of Denia, do not miss this event, on February 28th from 10.30 am and you will see how the 8 finalists prepare their best creation under the watchful eye of an exceptional jury.


If we had to define in some graphic way what a dish of Dénia red shrimp is, it would be, without a doubt, an explosion of marine flavor. The structure of the Dénia red shrimp makes it a nutritious food with an intense taste of the sea: a concentrate of iodine and salt that mixed with the flavor of its lean meat is, regardless of the way it has been cooked, a top quality food and always desired by gourmets.

Another element that makes the Dénia red shrimp present in the most exclusive restaurants is that it is not easy to fish due to the fact that the locations it often chooses as its habitat mean that the number of units that can be fished is not very high. Living in places that are difficult to access, either on foot or by boat, means that the price per kilo of these crustaceans is often prohibitive, something that also happens with elvers. Everyone understands, therefore, that it is one of the most exclusive foods of the Community of Valencia.


harvesting of red shrimp of denia, bohosuitesdenia


The Dénia shrimp also offers many peculiarities from the anatomical point of view that makes it easily recognizable: it has a red pigmentation different from the white pigmentation of the common shrimp and on the other hand it has a larger head, which is one of the parts of the Dénia shrimp where it treasures an exquisite flavor. The characteristics of the Gamba de Dénia has made it the star dish of many top restaurants both in Dénia itself and in the rest of the Community of Valencia.

One of the restaurants where with the greatest art they create dishes from the red prawn of Denia is the Restaurant of Quique Dacosta, which has led this fruit of the sea to acquire international fame. In his menu “Local Universe” Dacosta has created three different dishes with the Dénia Red Shrimp: a crispy crust dish of Dénia Red Shrimp served as a snack, a dish of Dénia Red Shrimp lightly cooked in sea water and finally a dish based on the juice of the head of the Dénia Red Shrimp in a sphere floating in a tea.


Red shrimp from denia, bohosuitesdenia


As for the preparation, most of the great chefs are of the opinion that the best preparation of the Red Prawn of Denia is the one that is made using sea water to give it a good cooking. The salt in the seawater helps the shrimp to keep its juices intact. For a large shrimp, two minutes of cooking at a temperature of at least 80 degrees Celsius is recommended.

The sea water should be boiled over high heat and when it reaches boiling point introduce the Denia Red Prawns and keep 3 minutes in the boiling water. When removing the shrimp, care must be taken so that it does not break. They are then immersed in ice-cold seawater. The shrimp should be served at a temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.

In any case, many gourmets are of the opinion that the best way to taste the Dénia Red Prawn is with few additions: boiled in its own sea water and without adding any kind of sauces or garnish that will only mask its natural flavor, which is the best that this crustacean, exclusive of the coasts of Dénia, can offer.

Where is the Red Shrimp caught?

On the other hand, the areas where the Dénia Red Shrimp can be fished are in very delimited fishing grounds located in the sea between Cape San Antonio and Ibiza. It is on this sea surface, which is really a trench, where we can find the highest concentration of Dénia Red Shrimp. It is usually found at a depth of 600 meters, in shady areas.


fishing boat gamba denia bohosuitesdenia


Due to the fact that at such a great depth there is practically no sunlight, the main food of the Dénia Red Shrimp is the algae that develop at these depths. Because algae cannot photosynthesize as food they are thinner than those found at shallower depths.

On the other hand, at that depth – 600 meters – there are practically no predators that threaten the concentrations of Dénia Red Shrimp, which allows the shrimp to live calmly and achieve a good accumulation of fat.

The Dénia Red Shrimp is not very abundant and is difficult to catch. It is usual that the fishing boats working in this area do not bring to port more than one or two boxes of Dénia Red Shrimp daily. However, despite such meager quantities, the fishing of the Dénia Red Shrimp continues to be a round business since it is paid in the fishermen’s market of Dénia at between 150 and 170 € per kilo.


Red shrimp from Dénia or Palamós?

An often sterile discussion has led many to argue whether it is Denia or Palamós where the highest quality red shrimp is found. Dénia seems to be where the Red Shrimp is fished with more flavor and abundant juice. In addition, the differences between the Red Prawns from Denia and those from Palamós are more than evident.

One of the main differences stems from the fact that the feeding of one and the other is different. The Red Prawns of Palamós have an ecosystem built on rocky soils while the Red Prawn of Denia has its special flavor for developing in water from the currents that go to Ibiza and in a chasm of more than 600 meters deep. However, in other places along the Valencian coast you can also taste good specimens of Red Shrimp such as Rafa’s (Roses), Els Pescadors (Llançà), Piripi (Alicante), Avenida (Gata de Gorgos), Canyar (Valencia), Villa Mas (Sant Feliu), Can Jordi (Palma de Mallorca) or Sa Pedera d’es Pujol (Sant Lluís, Menorca). Also in Etxebarri (Axpe) or El Celler de Can Roca (Gerona).

La Lonja de Dénia: the best place to buy Red Shrimp from Dénia

Undoubtedly, the best place to buy Dénia Red Shrimp is the Lonja of the port. The traditional auction is held daily, in which local restaurateurs bid for the lots of seafood and fish that arrive in the fishing boats.


The best restaurants where to eat Red Shrimp in Denia

However, the temple of the Red Prawn of Denia in the city is undoubtedly the restaurant El Faralló. At first, the restaurant was simply a canteen that was fed by customers from a nearby campsite. In those days, El Faralló offered tapas, wines or the most diverse types of supermarket products.

I hope you liked it, see you in the next post, we will tell you the best places to taste the best dishes of the Valencian Community.


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