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~ Spicy Mexican Ahogada-Style Grilled Shrimp Tacos ~

IMG_7659If 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 carbonshredded-pork carnitas tacosshredded-pork tacos al pastorchicken tacosfish 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.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d15c6b91970cFor the 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

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7d2a9c2970b 6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7d2a9c2970b 6a0120a8551282970b01bb0876d40e970d 6a0120a8551282970b01bb0876d40e970d~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.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7f32485970b2  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  

IMG_7610 IMG_7610 IMG_7610 IMG_7610~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:

IMG_7628 IMG_7628 IMG_7628 IMG_7628~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.

IMG_76438  taco shells, preferably freshly deep-fried using high-quality store-bought fresh corn tortillas

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)

IMG_7645 IMG_7645 IMG_7645 IMG_7645~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:

IMG_7666Celebrate a nicely-spiced ahogoda-shrimp-taco holiday:

IMG_7680Spicy Mexican Ahogada-Style Grilled Shrimp Tacos:  Recipe yields 8 large, hearty tacos.

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

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c7d2d12e970bCook'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


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