Friday, June 3, 2011

Baja Shrimp Tacos

I did a quick search for "shrimp taco" and the first hit I checked out was a short video of Gwyneth Paltrow making baja style shrimp tacos. She made it look pretty easy, considering you have to make beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, and still grill the shrimp. I took it just a step further, since Jeremy requested a "sauce" to go with the tacos. I pulled out my Our Best Bites cookbook and made "creamy lime-cilantro dressing", which is her knock off from Cafe Rio. The whole combination was really tastey. Jeremy smeared beans on his taco before layering everything else, and he really like it.

Baja Style Shrimp Tacos (Servings 4)
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons olive oil
the juice of one lime
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 dozen corn tortillas
pico de gallo (see recipe below)
guacamole (recipe below)
lime wedges for serving
Creamy lime-cilantro sauce (see recipe below)
crumbled cotija or feta cheese or monterrey jack cheese (optional)

1. Preheat your grill (or frying pan in my case) over high heat.
2. Toss the shrimp together with the olive oil, lime juice and salt.
3. Grill until cooked through, about 2 minutes a side.
4. To serve, heat the tortillas in in the leftover frying pan right before ready to serve.  (Wrap them in a tea towel to keep warm.
5. Pile a few shrimp on top of each tortilla and serve with a bit of pico de gallo, fresh lime juice, guacamole, some cilantro lime sauce and a little of the cheese if you’d like.

Pico de Gallo
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
coarse salt
squeeze of lime
as many finely chopped serrano or red jalapeƱos as you’d like (optional)

Combine the tomatoes, cilantro and onion together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and lime.

A lesson in simplicity—the best guacamole is a showcase for ripe avocados. A little salt, lime and cilantro go a long way. Again this serves four and is ready in 10 minutes!

2 ripe avocados
2 tablespoons minced white onion
3 tablespoons cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 lime
coarse salt

Cut each avocado in half. Scoop the avocado into a mixing bowl and mash gently with a fork—you don’t want it to be completely smooth. Stir in the onion and cilantro. Cut the lime in half and squeeze in enough juice to taste. Season the guacamole with salt, and either serve immediately or stick the pits in to keep it from browning (remove the pits before serving).

Creamy lime-cilantro sauce (curtesy of OBB)
1 pack (1oz) Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing Mix
1C mayo
1/2 C milk
1 lime
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 C roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 C green salsa ( I used her recommended La Costena brand)

Place milk, mayo, and ranch mix in a blender. Juice the lime in there too, you should get about 2T juice. Toss in the garlic, cilantro and green salsa. Blend 'er up. Make it several hours ahead of time to allow it to thicken.

Black Beans
By adding a few aromatics to a can of black beans, you get that Mexican restaurant flavor without hours of soaking and cooking. Serves 4 as a side dish and will be done in 20 minutes.

1 can of black beans
4 cilantro stems
1 garlic clove, crushed
pinch of salt

Combine everything together in a small pot and simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes (I do this while I’m preparing the rest of the meal).
Be sure to simmer the beans long enough so that they’re not watery.

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