California Central Coast Recipes
Shrimp Tacos - Central Coast Style
Shrimp Tacos - Central Coast Style is our version of the many shrimp taco recipes of the Pacific Coast, from Mexico up through the California Central Coast, and a perfect way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. These taco's are really juicy and messy. We like to bring the fillings and sauce to the table with warm crispy taco shells and individually assemble the tacos to our personal preference as we sit and eat with friends (and lots of napkins!) around the table.
Some of the Mexican recipes in particular can be very elaborate, and are very different from the High Desert style of Mexican cooking that Americans are used to. The traditional recipes have up to three separate steps that require rather involved preparation: a sauce based upon a seafood broth, a complicated filling using fresh raw shrimp, and fresh tortillas -just the top part, in a complicated assembly and deep fried finish. Also, the filling uses the shrimp diced instead of whole which we prefer.
Our version is much simpler, and if you are in a hurry, you can use cooked shrimp skipping the cleaning and de-veining step. If you are really in a hurry, you can also use a prepared green taco sauce instead of making you own.
Preparation time: 30 minutesCooking time: 30 minutes
The Green Sauce
1/2 pound fresh tomatillos
1 Jalapeno Pepper (or to taste)
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup Loosely Packed Chopped Cilantro
2 teaspoons Lime juice
1 pound Shelled Shrimp , (60 -72 count per pound)
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup onion , diced
3/4 cup Carrot , diced
1 cup Sweet Red Pepper , diced
2 large cloves Garlic , diced
1 Jalapeno Pepper , seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoons Dried Oregano
2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
2 cups Lettuce , sliced in thin ribbons
4 Fresh Limes sliced into quarters for squeezing
Cotijo Cheese , for grating
1 Preheat the oven to 200F or as indicated on the taco shell package.
2 For the Green Tomatillo Sauce: Place the tomatillos into a sauce pan with warm water and bring gently to a boil. You do not want the skin of the tomalillo to burst. Continue to boil gently for 10 minutes.
3 Carefully drain the tomatillos from the water and remove the outer loose leaf-cover and cut out the hard stem.
4 Place the tomatillos in a food processor or blender with the jalapeño.
5 Add the water and pulse until almost smooth.
6 Return the tomatillo mixture to the saucepan, and add the salt and sugar and heat to reduce the sauce until desired thickness.
7 Add the lime juice and cilantro and stir well and remove from heat, and cover to keep warm.
8 Place the taco shells into the oven to warm up. While preparing the filling occasionally check the shells to be sure that they are not browning.
9 If you are using cooked shrimp, skip this step, otherwise If you are using fresh shrimp, shell and de-vein the shrimp. Coat a medium frying pan with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the shrimp and sauté until the shrimp just turns pink. Remove the shrimp from pan and place them in a warm oven or cover on warm plate.
10 Add the onion, carrot, sweet pepper, jalapeno pepper, oregano and the extra tablespoon of olive oil if needed to the pan. Saute until the the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and continue to cook just until the garlic is fragrant. Be careful not to over -cook the mixture.
11 Deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and stirring it well into the mixture. Add the lime juice and turn up the heat to medium high and reduce the wine until the mixture thickens well --otherwise the mixture will be very runny in the taco shell.
12 Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked shrimp back into the mixture, and cook just long enough to warm the shrimp thoroughly.
13 Here is how we like to assemble the tacos --but do it as you like! First, place a spoonful or two of the shrimp mixture into the taco shell. Next, place a spoonful (or to taste) of green sauce on top of the mixture. Finish with a layer of fresh lettuce, a squeeze of fresh lime and some grated fresh Cotijo cheese on top.
If you went mild on the Jalapeno, the flavors of this recipe can stand up well to and go well with a non-oaked robust white wine, like a Pinot Gregio or a Sauvignon Blanc
If you made your tacos hot, try an off-sweet Gewurztraminer
If you are in the mood for a red wine, the green tomato-like flavors of the tomatillo also go very well with a young low tannin red wine. Try an Aglianico or a even a Sangiovese.