I know some people don’t really “get” seafood tacos. I think they’re just used to the tried-and-true beef or chicken ones and can’t really picture seafood in a dish that is often topped with shredded cheese. I can understand why it might seem strange. The first time I had fish tacos was definitely an eye-opening experience. And then I realized that people around the world (obviously in more coastal areas like California, Hawaii, and Australia) thrive on fish taco love!
Whether the seafood is fried or grilled depends very much on personal preference, and sometimes even location. Over recent years, seafood has become much more common and accepted to taco lovers. It’s a food trend that has taken off from beach-side taquerias and absorbed into the rest of the taco-loving universe.
I recently decided to make some tacos using shrimp. The plan was to either grill or quickly saute them without added fat until just cooked through and serve the shrimp on homemade corn tortillas with a variety of colorful and flavorful accouterments.
For a nice creamy topping, I skipped the guacamole and instead turned my avocados into a luscious avocado crema. This married the guac and sour cream components into one. For some crunch and color, I included a great standby for seafood tacos: cabbage. In this case, red cabbage. I also included a bit of additional crunch and much-needed acid from a very simple grape tomato-jicama salsa. The tacos should definitely be served with wedges of lime because even with the salsa, they will crave additional acid. They are made with seafood after all.
Full disclosure, I created these tacos with ingredients that were already in my pantry and fridge (with the exception of the red cabbage which I bought for the occasion). The salsa and crema were all inspired by creative observations into my fridge. I thought the jicama added a really great crunch to the salsa, but you can omit or replace it with something else if you can’t find it. Some fresh corn would actually be a great alternative to add a sweet summery layer of flavor.
Shrimp Tacos with Avocado Crema, Grape Tomato-Jicama Salsa, and Red Cabbage
Makes 16 tacos
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, completely peeled and de-veined (thawed frozen EZ-peel shrimp work great)
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
2 tablespoons sour cream (light is fine)
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
Grape Tomato-Jicama Salsa:
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup finely diced jicama
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
16 warm corn tortillas, preferably homemade
1 1/2 to 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
For the shrimp: In a bowl mix together the shrimp with the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate for up to a few hours until ready to cook.
For the avocado crema: Add the avocados, sour cream, and lime juice to the bowl of a small food processor and puree until smooth. Season with the coriander and salt to taste and mix again until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface to help prevent oxidization (the lime juice will help too). Refrigerate until ready to assemble tacos.
For the salsa: In a bowl combine the grape tomatoes, jicama, lime juice, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
To cook the shrimp, either grill them or saute them in a non-stick pan (I sauteed them without any additional oil and they were perfect). They will only require a couple minutes of cooking on either side until they are pink throughout. Remove cooked shrimp from the heat and begin assembling tacos while the shrimp are still hot.
To assemble tacos, place a few shrimp on each corn tortilla along with a schmear of avocado crema, a spoonful or two of grape tomato-jicama salsa, and a small pile of red cabbage. Squeeze a little lime over the top of each taco right before enjoying.