Monday, July 23, 2012

Chipotle shrimp tacos

I called Jon today and said, "I have five words for you. Are you ready? Homemade. Plaza Azteca. Shrimp. Tacos." He drooled onto the phone.

We love us some Plaza Azteca. For those who don't know, it's a chain (but small and seemingly localish) of Mexican restaurants. While I will eat some Combination Dinner #1 without complaint at other places, Plaza Azteca goes above and beyond that sort of menu. Lobster enchiladas, y'all. And shrimp tacos.They're simple, three soft tortillas wrapped around smoky bites of shrimp with some cheese (but not too much) and a pico de gallo topping of onion, tomato, cilantro and jalapeno.

That, at least, was my assumption about the ingredients when I started envisioning our copycat recipe. And I was so right, that we literally ate these things an hour ago and I'm already blogging it. It was that good.

We figure this makes about eight tacos.

You'll need:
A pound of shrimp, de-shelled and de-tailed, deveined, peeled and cut in half (31-40 count)
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (minced)
2-3 teaspoons adobo sauce
Most of a large Vidalia onion (or sweet onion), diced; you'll use the rest for the pico
Two to three Roma tomatoes, diced (we saved out a bit for the pico)
One-half medium bunch cilantro (we used only the leaves) chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (and deseeded)
One tablespoon olive oil
About a tablespoon of lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
Salt to taste (maybe a quarter teaspoon)
Ground black pepper
Pinch sugar
1 "fat" tablespoon of cumin.
Flour tortillas
Queso quesadilla cheese (we used Cacicque brand).

For pico de gallo:
Two to three tablespoons (or to taste; we like a lot) cilantro (we used only the leaves) chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (and deseeded)
Onion and tomato as mentioned above

So from this list, you can see that Jon was left unattended to season the shrimp mixture. Only he would describe a measurement as "fat." In fact he eyeballed most of the spices, and this is his guess about how much of the dry seasonings he put in. Whatever he did, it worked.

Dice the onion -- we did about 3/4 in the shrimp itself, and reserved 1/4 for the topping, which I diced more finely. Dice the tomato (and if you like tomato, you may want the third for the pico topping, but we  don't much like raw tomato so put most of it in with the shrimp mixture). Mince one chipotle pepper.

Chop the jalapeno and pluck as much cilantro if you want (stems are fine to use, we just don't). Mix in a bowl with the 1/4 finely diced onion and some tomato. I splashed a little lime juice in at this point. Set aside.

Chop or grate a small bowl of cheese, depending on how much you like cheese.

Heat the oil in the skillet and add the onion, tomato, chipotle, adobo sauce, the dried spices, and lime juice. Cook about four minutes on medium heat, or until onions start to get translucent. Add shrimp and cook about another four minutes on high heat. or until cooked through.

And that's it. We heated flour tortillas and scattered some cheese on first -- in the restaurant version, the cheese is melty, but while I was lobbying to heat each tortilla and cheese in a skillet, Jon convinced me that would take too long. So we just warmed up the tortilla, added cheese and the shrimp mixture and the pico topping, and stuffed our faces.

It was our first time cooking with a chipotle pepper, but it was the key to making this dish taste similar to the restaurant version we were copying. It wasn't exactly the same perhaps, but it was damn similar (and good!), so we were pretty proud.