published Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Courters' Kitchen: Marinade, slaw, mango salsa add just the right spice to shrimp tacos

Kelley Courter topped her marinated, grilled shrimp with a homemade slaw made with red and green cabbage and shredded jicama.
Kelley Courter topped her marinated, grilled shrimp with a homemade slaw made with red and green cabbage and shredded jicama.
Photo by John Rawlston.

BARRY SAYS: Fish tacos seemed to suddenly appear on the food landscape six or seven years ago, at least in my limited sphere of consciousness. At their simplest, they are just cooked fish wrapped in a soft tortilla, so they have been around for years and years.

According to the folks at Sunset.com, about 50 years ago, someone in California got the idea of adding cabbage and mayonnaise, and a food fad was created.

My first two experiences eating them at a couple of local restaurants were just so-so. I liked them well enough but found them to be expensive and fairly simple. Simple is fine by me when it comes to food, but not if it also is expensive.

So when Kelley said she wanted to make them, I was excited to see what she’d come up with. She went with shrimp instead of fish, and the result was one of the more amazing meals she’s come up with. And that is saying something.

KELLEY SAYS: I have never tasted a fish taco. Actually, the thought of fish on a taco doesn’t sound appealing to me. But I’m always willing to try something different. I went to my favorite seafood vendor, Siren’s at the foot of Signal Mountain, and looked at all the fresh fish they had on hand for the day. I explained that I needed a fish that could take a lot of spice. It was suggested that I try the blue marlin. As I watched the fishmonger slice the fish, it looked as though it would work nicely in a taco. I decided to also get shrimp, because everyone in our household loves the little guys.

When I began to create the dish, I started with the marinade first, just to see what kind of flavor I would end up with. I followed with the slaw, as I was trying to build different tastes within the taco. Once the marinade was to my liking, I skipped the fish and went with the shrimp. The marinade would actually be enough for about 3 pounds of fish or shrimp.

The last couple of items that went with the build added just the right amount of flavor. The mango salsa had just enough sweetness and the chipotle mayo the right amount of spice.

When it was time for the shrimp to go on the grill, I got a little excited to see what the final outcome would be. We let our daughter go first. She was the signal that all was good. I finally had a bite, and it was very tasty. The fish would have worked well with this marinade. I will definitely make these again. I used medium shrimp, and three per taco was the perfect amount.

BARRY SAYS: Three tacos was also about the right number for me, though I’d love to have another one right now. These were really good.

The marlin was pretty great the next day, too, but that’s a different story.

SHRIMP TACOS

11⁄2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp, marinated

Corn tortillas

Slaw

Mango salsa

Chipotle mayonnaise

Grill the shrimp. Heat tortillas per instructions on package. Portion grilled shrimp into warm tortillas. Top with slaw, mango salsa and chipotle mayonnaise. Enjoy.

Marinade for Shrimp

1⁄2 bottle Lawry’s Santa Fe chili with lime and garlic marinade

1⁄2 small white onion, chopped

2 cloves fresh garlic

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

11⁄2 T chopped fresh parsley

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

4 tablespoons Inca Foods aji panca paste

Black pepper, to taste

Pulse all ingredients in food processor. Pour into glass bowl. Add 11⁄2 pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp, and marinate for up to three hours.

Slaw

1 teaspoon roasted cumin seed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 fresh lime, juiced

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1⁄4 teaspoon sazon seasoning

11⁄2 tablespoons honey

1⁄4 Lawry’s fire-roasted chili and garlic salt

1⁄4 large green cabbage, thinly sliced

1⁄4 small red cabbage, thinly sliced

1⁄2 jicama, shredded

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1 diced jalapeño

2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Toss all ingredients together, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mango Salsa

2 mangos, peeled and chopped

1 green onion, sliced using white and green parts

1⁄2 cup sliced pineapple (canned)

1⁄2 minced jalapeño

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1⁄2 cup fresh diced tomatoes

3⁄4 t freshly squeezed lime juice

Mix all ingredients, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chipotle Mayonnaise

In food processor, place 2 tablespoons mayonnaise with 2 canned chipotle peppers with extra juice from can. Pulse until smooth.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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