Wish Upon A Dish: Mexican Cheesy Shrimp Tacos

October 15, 2013

Mexican Cheesy Shrimp Tacos

I think (though I won't swear too) I witnessed the origin of the Tex-Mex quesadilla the other night.
In the wee hours.
While I couldn't sleep.
and guess what we had for dinner?

I am not a fan of Tex-Mex foods. Mostly because I live in an area overrun with Chain Restaurants. There used to be a few family owned businesses but by 2001 they were all but gone. Now, what is available, are the bars on the lake, a few delis, and the Chinese & pizza places.
What Mexican food we eat, is prepared by me. Lately, as I became more educated in what a true Mexican might actually eat, I have tried to replicate in my own kitchen.

I am sure the food in Texas is wonderful. I am trying to convince The Nudge he wants to go but until then, the only food we will be eating, closest to Mexico, will originate in New Jersey.

Diabetics know that flour tortillas (no matter how healthy) should be eaten sparingly, but the corn versions, well they are all systems go and that's what I have been learning to cook with.
How am I doing? A few tries ended up in the garbage but I am working up the courage to make corn tortillas from scratch but until then I will buy and try different brands of store made until I find one I like.

What does all this have to do with the wee hours of my night? While most people can roll over, dig deep into the warmth of their blankets and pillows, I shed mine and turn on the TV.

I have gotten more great food ideas in those wee hours than I like to admit, since I do not have normal sleeping hours as it is and that The Nudge does not approve of this kind of midnight snack.

Tell me, who could resist a few minutes of sleep to watch someone make ooey, gooey, cheesy shrimp tacos. Not just great looking food (even for 2 in the morning), but quick and easy, with all the ingredients in your fridge? Not I.

If you love tacos, Mexican or Texican, you have got to make these tomorrow.
One reminder, these are not the Baja-Style Shrimp Taco with the shredded cabbage and salsa fresca or the fried fish tacos that we are all familiar with. After an extensive search on Google, I thought I saw one that could have been, but turned out not too. There did not seem to be anything similar to these out there, until I change the tortilla from corn to flour.

Corn tortillas, like crepes, don't always cook the way you expect and a few (at least in my kitchen) end up in the "do over" file.

Once I got the technique under my belt, these were perfect and good, really good. Make a batch, keep them on a towel lined sheet pan in a warm oven and you have a great starter for a party, in under thirty minutes.

I used a can of petite diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers, jalapenos and a mixture of cheddar and Jack cheeses (it's what I had in the fridge). Better yet, buy a container of store made fresh salsa and use that. Three ingredients, doesn't get any easier than that. Now, you have no excuse to make these.

Let's get cooking.......

Cheesy Shrimp Tacos (Encamaronadas)
Adapted from Mexico-One Plate at a Time, Season 9
* 12 ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 or 5 plum) ripe tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch pieces
* Fresh serrano chiles to taste, (roughly 3 to 5), or even more if you like it really picante), stemmed, seeded if you wish, and finely chopped
* ¼ cup chopped cilantro, thick bottom stems removed
* 1 large garlic clove, peeled and very finely chopped
* 1 small white onion, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon Mexican hot sauce (such as Valentina or Tamazula), plus extra for serving
* 1 tablespoon ketchup
* 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional, but you might like the zing it adds)
* Salt
* About 1/3 cup vegetable oil, divided use  .
* 1 pound small shrimp, peeled, deveined if you wish, and chopped into pieces a little smaller than ½ inch
* 15 corn tortillas
* 8 ounces shredded Mexican melting cheese (full-flavored Chihuahua or Jack cheese work best)

Making the” salsa.” Scoop the tomatoes, chiles, cilantro, garlic and white onion into a bowl and mix well.  Stir in the hot sauce, ketchup and optional lime juice. Taste and season with salt, usually about a scant teaspoon.

Making the shrimp filling. Heat a very large (12-inch), heavy skillet—nonstick works really well—over medium-high. Pour 2 tablespoon oil into the bottom and when it is hot, add the “salsa” vegetables.  Cook, stirring regularly, until everything softens together, about 5 minutes. Scoop in the shrimp and stir until they are barely cooked through (they can still be slightly translucent at the center)—about 3 minutes. Scoop the shrimp mixture into a bowl, wash and dry the skillet, and return it to medium heat.

Assembling the encamaronadas.  Spoon just enough oil to film the bottom of the skillet. There should be no waves when you rock the pan. This is important to get the correct browning of the tortillas. If the melted cheese hits a pool of hot oil, it just sticks to everything, the pan, the flipper and the tortillas, making a mess. Trust me when I tell you this, you will thank me.
When hot, lay in a tortilla. After a few seconds, flip it, then scatter a couple of tablespoons of shredded cheese over one side, top with a generous tablespoon of the filling. Use tongs to fold the uncovered part of the tortilla over the filling, forming a turnover. Gently press flat. Continue to make encamaronadas in the same fashion until the skillet is full, frying them until crisp—2 to 3 minutes per side (I made one at a time because I used the wrong sized pan). As they become crisp, remove them to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve right away with more Mexican hot sauce or a lime crema for dipping.

Follow Me on Pinterest

No comments :