Cary, NC – Ever since our kids flew the coop, my husband and I have been enjoying making food that we like and eating at all kinds of crazy hours, many times as late as 9 PM. One of our recent late-night summer meals was a dinner of Shrimp Tacos with homemade guacamole and pico de gallo. Fresh and spicy and perfect for our overheated summer here in Cary, NC.
These tacos are super fast to make and most of the ingredients you probably already have. At least we do. Our refrigerator always has a stack of seven-inch flour tortillas from Trader Joe’s, plum tomatoes and Vidalia onions, as well as plenty of citrus fruits.
Avocados are a produce staple with at least one or two ripening on our counter. The freezer usually has a bag of frozen, peeled and de-veined shrimp as well. Add to that a can of beans and some readily available spices and that’s all you need for a splendid, restaurant-worthy meal. This recipe serves two empty-nesters. If you have a larger group double or triple the recipe.
- 16 fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled, de-veined, defrosted and roughly half a pound each
- Four seven-inch flour tortillas
- chili pepper
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- Tajin spice (dehydrated Asian chili-lime)
- One Lime
- One Lemon
- 1/2 cucumber, peeled
- Two plum tomatoes
- One vidalia onion, peeled
- 1/2 red pepper
- One ripe avocado
- garlic clove
- Olive Oil (EVOO)
- One can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Heat the beans first, then make the pico de gallo first, then the guacamole, and lastly the shrimp and tortillas. All will be assembled together at the end.
I’m very basic here. I just plunk the whole can into my smallest pot, add the other half of the onion, some salt and pepper and one clove of chopped garlic, salt and pepper and some chili powder. Heat to a low simmer ’til it’s basically heated through.
Pico Ge Gallo
Chop the onion and add half of it to a medium bowl (Reserve the rest for your black beans). Chop the pepper and cucumber and add to the bowl.
Core the plum tomatoes and slice into eighths, removing all the seeds and center area. Chop the outer flesh and add to the bowl.
Squeeze half a lemon and add the juice to the bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and some garlic powder to taste. Set bowl aside to allow flavors to mix. Leave the other half of the lemon later for the shrimp.
I’m a simple gal and I hate sour cream. I know some people add that ingredient to their guacamole, but it adds unneeded extra calories and I don’t like it. I also don’t add salsa to my guac because I’m already going to have the pico de gallo and it’s enough already. I’m a purist. Avocadoes, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. That’s all you need.
Half each avocado, removing the pit. Scoop out the flesh with a spoon and deposit into a small mixing bowl. Using a fork start to mash up your avocado by turning the bowl, smashing the flesh, and continue turning until the entire green fruit is an even mashed consistency that YOU like.
Take your lime, cut it in half and squeeze using a regular old juicer. Use both halves of the lime. Pour this over the avocadoes.
Peel the garlic and chop it. Have a fancy chopper? You can use that, but if you chop the old-fashioned way with a knife, it’s all the same. Place in the bowl with the avocadoes and lime juice. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add a dash or two of chili powder for a little kick. Mix everything together. Set aside for flavors to meld.
The Shrimp Tacos
Here I usually rely on my husband to cook the shrimp because he does an awesome job. The key is not to overcook. You don’t want hard shrimp; they should be moist and tender. Heat a cast-iron skillet (or whatever your favorite pan might be) until it’s hot, then coat the bottom with your favorite olive oil.
When the oil is hot and coats the bottom of the pan, drop in the shrimp. Don’t move them until you can see the edges turning pink, then give them a quick flip. When they are just about done, squeeze the remaining lemon juice over them and add the Tajin spice along with salt and pepper. Remove immediately from the heat to another bowl and cover to keep hot. Wipe out the pan or get another to heat the flour tortillas.
Let the pan heat back up and put one tortilla in the pan to heat. These get hot and puffy very quickly. When you see it puff up, flip the tortilla. When it’s nicely warmed and slightly browned, remove from the pan to a waiting plate. Repeat until all four (or however many you are making) are done.
Now you can assemble!
I usually let everyone do their own thing, but start everyone off with the beans and shrimp on two tortillas per person. About three to four shrimp per tortilla fits nicely. Garnish as you like with the guacamole and pico de gallo or anything else they might want to add (more limes, some cheese, etc.).
And you’re done! Enjoy!
Story and photos by Lindsey Chester