Crispy Shrimp Tacos and Corn Salad

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TaquitosThe cooking club is featuring Rick Bayless this week and while I could have selected any number of recipes for my contribution I settled on a very good shrimp taquito recipe.  I hardly know what to say about dinner tonight since it was so good, partly because Michael brought home peeled and deveined shrimp something that I am not used to since we buy 30 or so fresh pounds each year and I peel the shrimp as I use it.   Rick Bayless is a wonderful source for many recipes that I make and tonight, I think that I surpassed my own expectations by making homemade “taquitos”.   The taquitos were not as pretty and as tightly rolled as the ones in the frozen section at the grocery stores, but excellent and we could not stop eating them.

While a bit time-consuming all elements can be made ahead of time then rolled and fried just before serving.  The recipe is enough for a dozen taquitos and sadly there is not a one left, I really liked the fresh idea of tomato broth (like a plain salsa) a small bowl of which goes with the taquitos when served, but I would spice it up just a bit and note that 1 pod of the chicken stock probably gave it more flavor than plain chicken broth.  I did use 2 cups of water instead of the 3 1/2 as stated on the instructions for the stock.  All in all a fresh new recipe for my “fiesta” files adapted from Fiesta at Rick’s Kindle version.  Rick suggested a crispy vegetable slaw, but I didn’t make that and served instead a grilled corn salad…

I did make a few changes, but nothing drastic the main thing was not to make them too spicy for Michael so one red jalapeño and a few small orange baby peppers worked nicely instead of two jalapeños.  I might mention that the recipe recommends thin tortillas, but unless you make your own I would suggest buying fresh tortillas from a Mexican restaurant or grocer if you know that they make them in house…I like Chuy’s.
Taquito fillingCrispy taco filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium white onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Hot green chiles to taste (2 to 3 serranos, 1 to 2 jalapeños), stemmed, seeded (if you like) and finely chopped (1 red jalapeño and 2-3 sweet  baby peppers)
12 ounces (2 medium-small round (Campari) red-ripe tomatoes, grated through the coarse holes of a grater or diced or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly drained and pureed in a blender or food processor
8 ounces peeled-and-deveined shrimp, cut into ½-inch pieces or smaller
2 to 3 packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Oil to a depth of 2 inches, for frying
12 thin, factory-made corn tortillas

1. Prepare the flavoring. In a large (10-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes, then add the garlic and chiles, and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomato and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until as thick as ketchup. Stir in the shrimp, cook for 1 minute, remove from the heat and cool. Stir in the cilantro, then taste and season with salt, usually about ¼ teaspoon.

2. Roll and fry the tacos. Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Holding two tortillas at a time with a pair of tongs, submerge them in the hot oil for a few seconds just to soften them. (This softening can also be done by spraying the tortillas with oil and quickly heating in the oven, as described on page 197.) Pat both sides of each tortilla dry on paper towels and collect into a single stack. Spoon a scant 3 tablespoons of filling in a line across the top tortilla, then roll up tightly. Continue making tacos, skewering them by twos, flaps together, on small skewers or large toothpicks. If time allows, refrigerate for easier handling. When you’re ready to serve, fry the tacos in the hot oil until crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve as casual finger food with guacamole or salsa, or go all the way to a beautifully plated appetizer, dousing the tacos with Tomato Broth and topping with Pickled Vegetables.

Tomato Broth
12 ounces (2 medium-small round) red-ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped OR 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly drained ½ small white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken, fish or shellfish broth
Salt to taste

1. Make the tomato broth. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. Heat the oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add it all at once. Stir until noticeably darker and thicker, about 5 minutes. Add the broth. When the mixture comes to a boil, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low. If necessary add more broth (or water) to give the mixture a soupy consistency. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon.

Corn saladGrilled fresh corn and pepper salad

Bayless, Rick (2010-07-05). Fiesta at Rick’s: Fabulous Food for Great Times with Friends (Kindle Locations 3143-3149). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.