~ Spicy Mexican Ahogada-Style Grilled Shrimp Tacos ~
If you're like me, an American cook with a fondness for Mexican fare, you most likely have a recipe-or-six for tacos (American-style ground beef tacos, grilled-beef tacos al carbon, shredded-pork carnitas tacos, shredded-pork tacos al pastor, chicken tacos, fish tacos, etc.). Today I'm adding another one, and, the inspiration for my creation came from the signature sandwich of Guadalajara: the Torta Ahogada (in Mexico, "torta" means "sandwich" and "ahogada" means "drenched", "drowned" or "drunken"). After eating these famous tortas for our Cinco de Mayo celebration, it occurred to me that making these shrimp tacos tonight might be a fine use for the leftover Mexican marinade and ahogada sauce. I was, spot-on, right.
To glibly dismiss Cinco de Mayo as an all-American drinking-holiday: is a display of unresearched ignorance. Read on:
"Cinco de Mayo" (Spanish for "fifth of May") is a celebration held on May 5. While it is celebrated nationwide in the United States, celebrations are also held in parts of Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, England, France, and South Africa. In Mexico, "El Día de la Batalla de Puebla" ("The Day of the Battle of Puebla"), considered a military holiday, is primarily celebrated in the state of Puebla. The date has been observed in the United States since 1863, as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and, to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War. In Mexico, while it is not a National holiday (banks and schools stay open), in the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, the most important and patriotic National holiday in Mexico (September 16).
The degree to which Mexico celebrates this holiday varies from community-to-community, which is no different than the degree to which we Americans celebrate some of our lesser holidays (example: May Day). Furthermore, to state (to me) that Mexicans in Mexico do not know what Cinco de Mayo is, is: stupid. Those are the facts kiddies. Got 'em in your head? Let's cook.
Part One: Making a crunchy Southwestern slaw.
4 cups store-bought coleslaw mix, a mixture of green & red cabbage & matchstick carrots
3/4 cup each: thinly-sliced green onions, white and light green part only, and, minced cilantro
2-3 tablespoons finely-diced jalapeño pepper, 2-3 tablespoons after removing seeds and ribs
3 tablespoons each: fresh lime juice and honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
~Step 1. In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice, honey and salt. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the scallions, cilantro and jalapeños. Fold in the slaw mix. When mixture is thoroughly combined, refrigerate 4-6 hours, or overnight, stopping to stir every now and then, until serving chilled.
Part Two: Marinating & sautéing/grill-panning the shrimp.
2 pounds jumbo shrimp (16/20 count), peeled, deveined, tails off (Note: To learn more, read my post, ~ Purchase Shrimp by their "Count" not their "Size" ~.)
1/2-3/4 cup my recipe for ~ A Basic Mexican Marinade for Beef, Pork or Poultry -- Great for Shellfish too. ~, which takes about 5 minutes to whisk together
~Step 1. Prepare the marinade as directed in recipe. Peel, devein and remove the tails from the shrimp, placing the shrimp in a medium bowl as you work. Add 1/2-3/4 cup of the marinade and thoroughly stir. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator to marinate, 2-4 hours or up to 6-8 hours, restirring the shrimp a few times during the process. Remove shrimp from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to sautéing/grill-panning, according to the following instructions:
~Step 2. Place a 12" nonstick grill-pan over medium-high heat. Don't have a grill pan? Use a 12" skillet. Using a large slotted spoon transfer the shrimp from the marinade to the grill pan. Discard the remaining marinade. Grill-pan the the shrimp over medium-high heat, using a nonstick spatula to flip and turn them, for 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Use a slotting spoon to transfer shrimp from the grill-pan to a bowl or a plate. Discard any juices remaining in grill-pan.
Part Three: Making ahogada-crema & assembling the tacos.
all of the Southwestern slaw, from above recipe
all of the marinated and cooked shrimp, from above recipe
1/2 cup recipe for ~ Ahogada Sauce for Mexican Drowned Sandwiches ~, stirred together w/1/2 cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
~Step 1. Arrange deep-fried taco shells on individual plates or all of them on a platter. Scoop some chilled Southwestern slaw into each shell, top the slaw with 6-8 still-warm and juicy shrimp, then, drizzle ahogada crema generously over all. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro and enjoy.
Assemble as follows: taco shell, a scoop of Southwestern slaw, 6-8 shrimp, & a generous drizzle of ahogada crema:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 1-cup measuring container; whisk; plastic wrap; large slotted spoon; 12" round or square nonstick grill pan; nonstick spatula
Cook's Note: When it comes to fish tacos made with grilled or pan-fried fish fillets, you can make them with the fish you like best -- almost any type of fresh fish can be added to a fish taco. That will not work for the batter-dipped, deep-fried fish taco -- thin filets and/or delicate fish will not hold up to the rigors of deep-fat-frying. For me, cod is hands-down my favorite. You only live once, so, I suggest you these divine ~ Beer-Batter-Dipped, Deep-Fried, Cod-Fish Tacos ~. Cinco de Mayo!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018