Sunday, May 8, 2011

Shrimp Guaco Tacos

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends and I started a Wednesday night dinner called "Single Jen(n)s' Night" because my one friend Jenn and I both have husbands who are normally gone all week on business travel. Our friend Laurie joins us, even though she's not a Single Jen(n) during the week. Single Jen(n)s' Night is all about taking time to catch up with friends, letting Jenn have some adult company, and giving me an outlet for my blog.

The first of these recipes I tried on my unwitting participants was shrimp tacos. I've decided to call them "Shrimp Guaco Tacos" mainly because "guaco" rhymes with "taco"... but also because the tacos were served with homemade guacamole. So this recipe really has two parts: the tacos and the guacamole.

Make the guacamole first:

Single Jen(n)'s Guacamole
  • One medium ripe avocado (an avocado is ripe if it gives a bit when you squeeze it. It shouldn't be firm, and it shouldn't be squishy)
  • One lime, sliced in half the "short way" across the center
  • Fresh cilantro, about 1/4 cup, chopped
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, finely minced
  • One small tomato, seeds removed, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. First, get the avocado flesh into a medium mixing bowl: Using a sharp chef's knife (and a lot of caution!), slice the avocado in half around the pit. Holding the avocado with both hands, twist and lift one half until it separates from the other half. The pit will remain in one half. Take the half with the pit in one hand and, with your other hand, use the blade chef's knife to whack into the pit. Twist a quarter turn, and the pit should loosen from the avocado. Now use a spoon to scoop the flesh from the avocado into the mixing bowl. Great job!
  2. Using a citrus reamer (or a fork), squeeze the juice from one of the lime halves over the avocado. Add a pinch of salt and some pepper, and mash the avocado with a fork. You don't want it to get too smooth, but you also don't want too many lumps.
  3. Add the onions, tomatoes, and cilantro to the avocado, and blend with the fork. Taste and see whether you need to add more lime juice, salt or pepper.
  4. Enjoy! Serves about four (or one, if you really, really, really like I do!)

Shrimp Guaco Tacos
  • One pound of medium or large raw shrimp (go ahead, use jumbo or colossal if you want!), peeled and de-veined (thawed if frozen)
  • About 1 T. of Chili powder (Penzeys Spices Chili 9000 is my favorite!)
  • About 1 t. of minced garlic (fresh or dehydrated both work well)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • One half of a fresh lime
  • One Bell pepper, sliced into strips (I like to use yellow or orange for color)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 package of small (6") corn tortillas (usually 12 per package). Corn tortillas have a much lower glycemic index than flour tortillas, more fiber, and fewer calories. Usually they are only about 120 calories for 2 tortillas. Use flour if you prefer!
  • Single Jen(n)'s Guacamole
  • Salsa of your choice
  • Shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese and reduced fat sour cream if you'd like
  • Fresh cilantro
  1. Ensure that the shrimp have been rinsed and patted dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the chili powder and garlic, then allow to marinate for about an hour.
  2. Heat a skillet or frying pan over medium high heat, then spray with cooking spray. Add the pepper strips, stirring frequently, until they begin to soften. Keep the peppers in the pan, moving them to the edge so that there is enough space in the center of the pan to put the shrimp.
  3. Spray the pan with more cooking spray if necessary. Add the shrimp. Cook for about 2 minutes, then turn the shrimp over to cook on the other side. They should not cook for more than about 4-5 minutes total.
  4. While the shrimp cook, if you have a gas stove, then you can do this neat trick with the corn tortillas that makes them a bit more pliable and less likely to crack in the middle. Turn on a burner to about medium. **USING TONGS**, place a tortilla directly on the burner. After about 10 seconds, AGAIN using tongs, turn the tortilla over. Do this repeatedly until the tortilla is a little bit blackened, and warmed all the way through. Be sure not to leave the tortillas unattended, they can catch fire (and have in my presence!).
  5. Once they've finished cooking, give the shrimp and peppers a good stir to ensure they are well seasoned. Squeeze the lime over the shrimp and peppers, and stir to distribute the lime juice.
  6. Each serving is 2-3 tacos: each taco is a tortilla with a scoop of the shrimp and pepper mixture, topped with a bit of guac, salsa, and if you would like, sour cream and cheese. Fresh cilantro is another nice touch.
  7. Enjoy!

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