While I am a fanatic for bombastic, creative, out-of-the-box sandwiches, their relative the TACO has the potential to offer a wider diversity of flavors, textures, and visual appeal. That’s just my opinon.
It’s also the correct opinion. Period.
Crispy shrimp, chewy tortillas, bright acidity and herbaciousness, and a smoky, fatty crema tie this bite together into one of the most glorious tongue-tantalizers that I can make at home.
Now, it’s confession time: I’m breaking my rule about easy. This dish certainly CAN be made a lot easier. One could exclude the chimichurri marinade (and topping) for a simple dusting of spices (salt, at least, if not salt, chili powder, garlic, cumin, and even a touch of brown sugar). One could ditch the chipotle crema for a store-bought salsa (but DO NOT have the audacity to put sour cream on these hand-held delivery vectors for yum-yum). One could also substitute some frozen fish to make the process easier or less expensive or… ya’ know… not shrimp.
However, I would assert that the little extra love and care make these things SOAR higher than most fish / seafood tacos one comes across at even the most legitimate of taquerias.
Also, ALSO, these marinades and sauces are something you toss in a blender. So they aren’t terribly difficult for even a novice at-home cook.
Here are the essential food hacks:
-Seafood of most varieties can be EXPENSIVE, especially when it’s fresh. This recipe makes use of FROZEN, peeled, deveined shrimp for convenience and a cost-effective alternative to fresh seafood. (If you can afford it, of course go for fresh!);
-It is because frozen seafood can be a little less than perfect that this recipe employs a big, bright, bold marinade to mask any less-than-perfect flavors. It also utilizes a simple blender sauce to bolster deliciosity and, again, help with off flavors;
-Many of us skip this most essential step, grilling the tortillas prior to consumption. This increases that lovely corn flavor and makes the tortilla more flexible for the grippin’;
Chimichurri Shrimp Tacos
-1 lb. shrimp (for convenience, pick up fresh or frozen shrimp that are peeled and deveined)
-8 corn tortillas (not the crunchy, suburban variety, por favor)
-1 head Napa cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced
-1 avocado, removed from the shell and diced
-2 bunches cilantro (set a bit aside to mince for garnish)
-Chimichurri marinade and Chipotle crema
-1 bunch cilantro (minus the bit you set aside)
-1 bunch parsley
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2 limes, juiced
-1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, peeled
-1/2 onion (I prefer white)
-1 tsp dried oregano
-1 dash red pepper flakes
-S/P to taste (about 1/2 tsp and 1/4 tsp, respectively, to start)
-1 to 3 chipotle peppers in adobo (some like it hot!)
-2 heaping tbsp mayo
-2 heaping tbsp sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
-2-3 dashes cumin
-1 lime, juiced
- Take chimichurri ingredients and throw them in a blender (or food processor, food ninja, VitaMix, whatever) and blend until smooth and awesome;
- Take chipotle crema ingredients and do the same thing (if you have a condiment squirt bottle, use that; the zig-zagging lines you draw on those tacos will look way more appealing);
- After shrimp are prepared (depending on your starting point, they will want to wind up peeled, deveined, thawed, and patted dry), pour a generous amount of chimichurri over them (reserving some as a taco topping, if you’d like… you won’t regret it!). Mix together and marinate in the fridge for at least an hour, if not 4 or 5 hours;
- When ready to cook, remove shrimp from fridge, drain off chimichurri (I honestly use a colander, then pat them dry). Allow to come up to room temperature (30 minutes, at least);
- Warm a pan over medium heat, spray with a small amount of olive oil, and heat the tortillas until they have a little color and texture to them (smell them as they progress and do not burn or overcook, as they will become hard and inflexible… the opposite of what we want). Set aside to be topped with all of the other hotness you’re preparing;
- Heat a grill, cast iron pan, or whatever cooking surface you prefer (for a pan, use 1 tbsp olive oil; for a grill, grease the grate);
- Cook shrimp with a LOT of TLC (meaning PAY ATTENTION). Start shrimp cooking for 2 minutes, flip, and cook for one more minute (or until you’ve achieved a crisp exterior without making them rubbery from overcooking);
- Prepare for glory! Lay out tortillas and place three shrimp in there. Top with avocado and then cabbage shreds.
- Adorn with whatever you like! The pictures in this recipe involves topping with a few beautiful zig-zagging lines of the chipotle crema (for extra fun, spoon on a small bit of the reserved chimichurri).
- Sprinkle on the minced cilantro. Watch your guests’ jaws drop after their first bites. Note the lull in conversation and increased sounds of macking, nomming, and grunting.
- Tilt your seat back and listen smugly to the compliments rolling in.