I like to try to kick things up a notch in the kitchen, and wanted to find a fun alternative to the traditional taco filling. My family loves seafood, and I thought shrimp would lend itself nicely to this dish.
Did you know seafood is one of the highest protein, lowest calorie foods you can eat? Shrimp is a bit high in cholesterol, but as long as you keep your portion sizes in check, you should be fine.
Avocado salsa and cabbage slaw are great accompaniments to the seasoned seafood filling. This light and simple dish is easy to prepare, which makes it perfect for simple dinner parties and warm-weather barbecues.
You can assemble these before serving, or you can lay out the components separately so your guests can build their own tacos.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step One – Preheat and Thaw
Preheat your oven to 375°F and place the shrimp in a colander to thaw.
The quickest way to thaw is to keep them under cold, running water. I know it might seem tempting to use warm, but you want them to thaw evenly. Plus, you don’t want to risk starting to cook them with water that is too warm.
Step Two – Slaw
While things are thawing, now is a good time to pull together the slaw.
Slice the cabbage into small shreds, followed by the onion and carrots. If you purchase already shredded cabbage and carrots, this dish will come together that much faster.
The food processor or a mandoline can also be a big help for this task.
Pour your sugar and half of the lime juice over the veggies, and stir things up.
Step Three – Spice
Now it’s time to give the slaw a little kick.
Dice the jalapeno, cilantro, and scallions into very small pieces. Toss these in with the other veggies, stir it all together, and set it in the fridge to rest, covered with plastic wrap or a lid.
Step Four – Salsa
In a clean bowl, mix together these ingredients along with the remaining lime juice.
Cover the salsa and store it in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
Step Five – Season
Place your thawed, peeled, and deveined shrimp in a clean, medium-sized bowl. Toss to coat with oil, then add the salt, pepper, and chili powder. Toss until evenly coated with the spices.
Wait! Don’t throw out those shells! Use them to make a flavorful seafood stock.
Step Six – Bake
Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure they do not overlap, or else they won’t cook evenly. Neither under- nor over-cooked seafood is very pleasant to eat!
Bake until the shrimp turn pink, a sign that they are cooked all the way through. This should take about 6 or 7 minutes.
A great way to check if they are truly finished cooking is to look at the backs, where they have been sliced for deveining. Gently pull the sliced section apart to see whether the inside is still white. If it is cooked all the way through, it will be light pink instead.
If you’d like, you could also grill the shrimp instead. If you choose to take this route, I advice cooking large ones – otherwise they will be likely to fall through the slots on the grill, and they may overcook more easily.
If you place them on skewers, they will be easier to handle on the grill. I recommend cooking on low heat for 7-8 minutes. Just as you would when baking in the oven, check the spine to see if it has cooked all the way through.
Step Seven – Warm
Wrap your tortillas in foil and warm them in the oven (or on the grill) for about five minutes. Not only are warm tortillas sinfully delightful, this process of warming them makes them more pliable and less likely to break when you start to assemble your meal.
Step Eight – Assemble and Serve
To assemble your tacos, lay out a bed of slaw, then top with avocado salsa. Next, add a handful of shrimp – voila!
If you want to add an extra touch of cooling, creamy flavor, drizzle with sour cream or Greek yogurt.
For even more taco-related inspiration, check out our other recipe for shrimp tacos with cilantro crema, or our recipe for marinated pork tacos with peach corn salsa. And you’ll love round-up of salsa recipes from some of our favorite bloggers.
If you’re a lover of shrimp, you might want to check out our sizzlin’ shrimp fajitas recipe, too.
Let me know how your Taco Tuesday turns out, and share your experiences in the comments!
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional writing and editing by Kendall Vanderslice.
About Jennifer Swartvagher
Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.