What started merely as a joke has become a tradition in our house over the last two months. In the early days, we called it the Covid-19 Food Fest. And in our quest to maintain this culinary theme during the pandemic, we rise to the occasion. We continue to cook up a storm, dive into new recipes and run the dishwasher almost daily. But as the seasons change and the weather warms up, we need new dishes that offer lighter fare to keep us from feeling heavy.
Though I am typically uninspired with the food magazines and their recipes of late, Bon Appetit’s May issue is an anomaly and offers a handful of viable ideas. My previous blog post featuring the trail mix cookies hail from this same issue. If you haven’t yet made a batch, please don’t wait any longer. And make it a double. A double batch of cookies, that is. It feels almost mandatory that we end each day on a sweet note. Consider it a prize for pushing through the uncertainty and frustration within a 24-hour cycle.
If you are more into savory, perhaps the farro-vegetable hash with chermoula or the collard greens salad with fried plantain and sumac lights your fire? Or maybe you will flip for what we flipped for, something with a little spice and a little sweet to cut the spice.
The Magical Combo of Sweet and Spicy
The juxtaposition of the sweet and spicy flavor components hit a chord with me right now. Considering most of us are still under shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders, let’s face it, some days are sweet, while other days can be exhausting, painful and make me want to stay or get back in bed.
Though this perky combination of flavors is readily used in many Mexican dishes, particularly chicken and even ribs, I had never tried it with shrimp. And what we have been missing! Thankfully, we are no longer in the dark. Trying to get our fill of this flavor sensation, we have already made these chipotle-honey shrimp tacos twice in the last week.
Sweet and spicy shrimp are sauteed and topped with a garlic-lime crema that calms the heat of the chipotle. If you don’t have a can of adobo in your pantry, grab one the next time you are at the store and you’ll be glad you did.
The addition of crunchy, cold cabbage pacifies the chipotle buzz a bit more so be generous. Then sprinkle each taco with a few shards of pickled red onions and get ready to fall in love. These tacos hit all the right notes.
Considering we are all succumbing to minimal external sensory stimulation these days, these tacos are the explosive flavor we all need. And it will light up your world. If only for a few minutes.
Chipotle-Honey Shrimp Tacos
The piquant sweet and spicy combo is what makes these tacos stand-out among the crowd of tacos. The heat is calmed by a lovely garlic crema and cold, crispy and crunchy cabbage. A dusting of pickled red onions makes these tacos the most addictive and delicious. Everything you want in a taco. This recipe can easily be doubled. When figuring how much shrimp to buy, stick with half a pound of shrimp per person, which makes two tacos.
For the shrimp marinade
- 2 tablespoons adobo (chipotle chiles in adobo from a can)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 pound shrimp peeled and deveined (save the shrimp shells; store them in freezer bag and put them in the freezer for shrimp stock)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pinch kosher or sea salt
For the garlic-lime crema
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1 clove garlic, minced or finely grated
To assemble the tacos
- 1/4 head red or green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 lime, quartered garnish
- Pickled red onions garnish
- 4 corn tortillas
In a bowl, add the adobo and honey and stir well until combined. Add the peeled and deveined shrimp, a pinch of salt for seasoning and toss to coat. Set aside.
In a small bowl, place the mayo and minced garlic and squeeze the juice of half a lime. Stir well to combine until well blended and set aside.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add two tablespoons olive oil. Once oil is shimmering, add the shrimp and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright pink and curled, flip the shrimp so it cooks on both sides. This will be about 2-4 minutes to cook through. Remove skillet from heat.
Over gas flame or on a skillet over medium-high heat, work in batches to heat the tortillas. I love to let them get burned spots on them directly from the heat, but warm them until they are pliable, about 45 seconds per side. Transfer hot tortilla to a fresh kitchen towel and wrap it up to keep warm until the next tortilla is ready to be added to the hot kitchen towel.
When ready to serve, place hot tortilla on a plate and build your taco with shrimp, cabbage, cilantro and red onions and a generous few dollops of garlic crema. Squeeze a little lime juice over everything and enjoy.
If you are into spicy, feel free to grab the chipotle peppers that cling to the skillet. If you prefer less spicy, leave the chipotle pepper residue behind in the skillet.