Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Shrimp Tacos with Roated Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa

Shrimp Tacos

I love seafood so much but I’ve noticed that many home kitchens avoid it. Is it scary? Maybe it just wasn’t in grandma’s recipe box so it never got passed down. I know other people like it too because I see others ordering it. Well it should be demystified. The benefits are too great.

First and foremost, just the flavor. Seafood in general is such a fantastic canvas for every type of herb, vegetable and accoutrement. It can robust and hearty or light and complimentary. The unbelievable variety of seafood available keeps the potential recipe variations incalculable. It’s really the only food that can do that. If we look at beef, we get a cow (I love the taste of a good cow, too). When we look at seafood, we look at clams, shrimp, fish, mollusks, and urchin and on and on… An endless sea (HA- get it? SEA) of variety and all deliciously edible.

There’s also the health benefit of seafood, right? It has that stuff in it that makes you live longer, right? Based on my cooking style, that’s the extent of my nutritional knowledge. But I do know it tastes damned good.

Next there’s the ease and speed of preparation. There is no other dinner in my house that comes together as quick as seafood dinners. Fish cooks quick. It’s that simple. And since I eat some seafood raw (did I say that out loud?) the prep time is even quicker.

OK since I need some real estate down below to keep this post of a manageable length, I’ll get on to the Shrimp Tacos and their story. It’s a bit funny, at least to me. Earlier this year, I decided I was going to begin entering cooking contests. I had been inspired by watching many competition type shows on the Food Network. My first (OK and only thus far) foray into this was a Wild American Shrimp recipe contest. As usual, I sought no counsel but instead I went to the grocery store and just began walking around. Also as usual, my first stop at the store is the produce section. MANY, MANY of my self proclaimed creative moments come from finding what fresh herbs and vegetables are available that day. When I scanned over the limes and cilantro, I immediately knew the basis for my recipe. Things then began to fall together rather quickly.

I got home and immediately went to work. While I tried several rub variations and topping combos, I kept the base. Tortilla and shrimp. So a shrimp taco was being born. Eventually I settled on the recipe you see below. I’m really sorry I don’t have a photo for you. In fact, that’s part of the story. It seems I didn’t read the contest fine print. I was supposed to send that in with the recipe but I did not. Therefore, I wasn’t even considered. I’ll use that as my excuse for not being lauded for how fantastic this was.

Let me know what you think. Enjoy!!!

Spiced Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa

(Serves 4)

Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa (make the day before)

6-7 medium sized Tomatillos, quartered
3 Red Bell Peppers
2 Shallots, finely diced
2 Jalapeño peppers finely diced (with or without the seeds depending on the amount of heat you like. I tend to remove most)
2 cups of Cilantro (unchopped)
Juice of 1 Lime
Dash of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the Red Peppers beneath the broiler on the highest rack. When 1st side is blackened turn peppers till black all around and skin is completely charred. Place Tomatillos in ovenproof skillet. Drizzle with Olive Oil. Place that skillet on the rack beneath the Red Peppers. After about 25-30 minutes, the peppers should be completely charred and the Tomatillos should have brown edges. Remove both from oven. Place Tomatillos aside to cool. Put the peppers in a brown bag or plastic ware container and seal. Allow peppers to cool (about an hour). Remove the peppers and peel the skin completely away.
Combine the Peppers, Tomatillos, Shallots, Jalapeños, Cilantro, Lime Juice, Salt and Pepper in a food processor. Pulse about 8-12 times till you have a nice Salsa-like consistency. Place Salsa mixture in a container and refrigerate overnight.

Spicy Shrimp

½ tsp Cumin
½ tsp Coriander
½ tsp Cardamom
½ tsp Mustard
½ tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
½ tsp Ceyenne (adjust amount according to desired heat)
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 lb large Shrimp (about 24 count). Peeled and de-veined.

Combine all ingredients in a plastic re-sealable bag. Remove as much air as possible and place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. Skewer shrimp onto wooden skewers that have been soaked in water at least an hour. Approximately 6 shrimp per skewer. Keep refrigerated or on ice until ready to cook.

At the tailgate event, place the Shrimp skewers on a hot grill about 2-3 minutes per side until opaque throughout. Do not overcook.

Shrimp Taco Assembly

4 Flour Tortillas
Approximately ½ cup Baby Arugula
Approximately ½ cup Cilantro
Spicy Shrimp Skewers directly from grill
Roasted Tomatillo and Red Pepper Salsa
Approximately ½ cup Queso Fresco (a white Mexican cheese)
Lime wedges

Place the Tortillas on the grill for about 20-30 seconds per side to make them warm and more pliable. In each Tortilla, layer a few leaves of the Arugula and Cilantro. Place the Shrimp atop that and remove the skewer. Place about a tablespoon of the Salsa atop and sprinkle with the cheese.

Serve with the lime wedges for squeezing over the taco.


1 comment:

Laura said...

Lou-- This sounds Awesome!! We should get together and make this some weekend.