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Crispy Shrimp Tacos w/ Savory Tomato Broth & Pickled Vegetables

Around this house, if we're running low on food and looking for something to make, one of the first go-to's is flautas, or crispy tacos.  Have some leftover chicken in the fridge?  Let's have flautas!  Shredded beef or pork from a meal yesterday?  Flautas.  A couple potatoes sitting in the crate?  Cook 'em up nice and tender and mash in some chipotle and maybe some chorizo if we're lucky.  What do we have?  Mmm hmmm, you guessed it.  Flautas.  Same goes for beans.  They make a super tasty flautas filling.

But before yesterday, I had never put any sort of seafood into my flautas.  The thought never even crossed my mind.  I don't know why.  Fried fish?  Yum.  Fried shrimp.  Oh yes.  I just hadn't even contemplated rolling them up in a hot tortilla instead of dipping them in a batter or tossing them in bread crumbs.

That's all changed now.
Personally, these little shrimp morsels bathed in a rich, tomatoey broth are delectable enough to eat alone.  And in all honesty, I may prefer it that way.  But I'm down with rolling pretty much anything in a tortilla.  This girl loves her tacos, after all.

I think the best part was the contrast that bathing crispy little tubes of shrimp in a hot savory tomato broth imparted.  The outside edges staying crispy while the insides started to lose that crunch and gain that tortilla-casserole essence.  And then add some pungent and slightly crispy quick pickled veggies to the top of the whole shebang. Oh yeah.  

Crispy Shrimp Tacos w/ Savory Tomato Broth & Pickled Vegetables (Tacos Dorados Estilo Escuinapa con Caldo de Jitomate y Verduras Escabechadas)

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30-45 minutes
Cook Time: 45-60 minutes
Keywords: fry entree tomatoes shrimp Mexican

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
    for tomato broth:
    • 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes w/ juices
    • ½ small white onion, roughly chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 c. fish, shellfish, or chicken broth
    • ~½ tsp. salt
    for pickled vegetables:
    • ⅔ c. rice vinegar
    • 1 c. water
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 sprig fresh thyme (or a big pinch of dried)
    • 1 tsp. sugar
    • ½ tsp.
    • 2 medium carrots, cut into thin matchstick-style sticks (to yield ~4 oz.)
    • ½ small white onion, thinly sliced
    • 4 c. (loosely packed) thinly sliced Napa Cabbage
    for tacos:
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • small white onion, cut into 1/4" dice
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, & finely diced
    • 1 (15 oz.) can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes w/ juices
    • 12 oz. peeled & deveined shrimp, cut into 1/2" pieces
    • ¼ c. chopped cilantro
    • salt
    • oil, for frying
    • 18-22 thin corn tortillas
    Tomato Broth:
    Puree the tomatoes and their juices along with the onion and garlic in a blender until smooth.

    Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Set a strainer over the top and pour the puree through it. Press through with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Remove strainer and stir until noticeably darker and thicker, ~5 minutes.

    Add broth and bring to a boil. Partially cover and reduce heat; simmer 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

    Pickled Vegetables:
    Combine vinegar, water, bay leaf, thyme, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat to a simmer. Place carrots in a heatproof bowl and pour the vinegar mixture over the top of them. When they are cool, add the onion and cabbage and toss.

    Crispy Tacos (flautas):
    In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, ~3-4 minutes. Add garlic and chiles and cook for another minute. Add tomatoes wit their juices and cook, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is thick. Stir in shrimp and cook for 1 minute, or until pink. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. Stir in cilantro and salt.

    Pour a couple of inches of oil into a deep-sided skillet and heat until shimmering (~360° F).

    Wrap tortillas in a clean kitchen towel and microwave until very hot and pliable, 3-5 minutes. You could also give each tortilla a quick dip (few seconds each) in hot oil and remove to paper towel-lined tray to drain. Which ever way you choose, stack 'em up.

    Spoon a line of shrimp filling across the bottom third of the tortilla (scant 3 tablespoons each) leaving about an inch border on each edge; then roll up tightly. Roll them all and line them up on a tray until your filling is used up. If you need to, skewer the rolls with toothpicks or thin skewers to keep them together.

    When you're ready to serve, fry the tacos in hot oil until crisp, 2-3 minutes. Don't crowd the pan, do this in batches. Remove from oil using tongs onto a paper towel-lined tray until all of the tacos are fried.

    To serve, ladle some hot broth over the tacos and top with a pile of the pickled vegetables and eat immediately.

    slightly adapted from Fiesta at Rick's
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