Shrimp Tacos in Mexico City (made easy at home)
Recently, I went on my first holiday to Mexico City. Of course, I was very curious about the food. (We have great Mexican food in Chicago!) Yes, the Shrimp Tacos were delicious in the trendy area of Condessa. They were so fresh and the tortillas were homemade. I thought I could make these tacos at home. Locals in Mexico City told me to find the masa de nixtamal in the grocery stores. Our taxi driver found it, and it’s delicious. I already had the inexpensive tortilla maker, but hadn’t found the right masa in the US. I set out to practice tortillas again. Practice does make perfect.
My husband and I decided to ignore all of the violence mentioned on the airwaves. However, we did receive some excellent advice from a friend of ours that used to live in Mexico City: Don’t drink the water or eat the food from the food stands, realize you are in one of the largest cities in the world, and only take cabs from hotels or restaurants that call them for you. Also, Paul mentioned to not take the subway. We followed his advice and had a marvelous time. The hardest directive for me was not eating off the hundreds of taco and drink stands in Mexico City. We were enthralled by the pride, beauty, the perfect weather, and the culture of the Mexican people. Of course, we will return next winter. There is lots more to see and do in Mexico City, and eat.
Back to the shrimp tacos- The pomegranate seeds garnished the guacamole was very nicely, but the pomegranate season in Chicago is finished. Also, I know the shrimp was fresh in Mexico City. Fresh shrimp is hard to find in Chicago, so I substituted frozen salad shrimp, and drained them. I brightened the flavor with a splash of lemon juice. My own addition of scallions gave a nice crunch and color to the shrimp tacos. Mayo flavored with chipotles bound the shrimp. The shrimp and the homemade tortillas are the star- so easy on the other ingredients.
I liked the garnish of guacamole with the shrimp tacos. Everyone probably has their favorite recipe for guacamole. Make sure everything is fresh. I would make it at the last minute, just like they do in the best Mexican restaurants. (In Chicago, that would be any of Rick Bayless’s restaurants.) Also, I like to toast cumin seeds and grind them for my guacamole. It’s adds great depth of flavor. Enjoy these delicious Shrimp Tacos with Homemade Tortillas.
Talk to you in two weeks.
author of Scratch That Seasonal Menus and Perfect Pairings, www.conniefairbanks.com.
Shrimp Tacos with Guacamole
8 ounces salad shrimp, drained (if frozen) and thawed
¼ cup low fat mayonnaise
1 -2 teaspoons chipotle in adobo sauce, pureed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced
Mix together in a small bowl, right before serving.
Connie’s Notes: Pat the shrimp dry to remove excess water. Add chipotle to your taste. Wine or beer pairings are: Mexican beer or Albarino, a Spanish white wine.
Yield: Serves: 2 -3 as an entrée
2 ripe avocadoes, seeded and peeled
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ripe tomatoes, seeded, and finely chopped
½ tablespoon cilantro, chopped, and sprigs for garnish
½ - 1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of half a lime
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
sea salt to taste
In a medium sized bowl, lightly mash the avocadoes. Add the rest of the ingredients, and mix together until combined. Leave chunky. Check for seasonings. Serve immediately, or cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until serving time.
Yield: Serves 2 -3 as a side to an entrée or 4 – 6 as an appetizer
2 cups Masa de Nixtamal
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1¼ - ½ cups warm water
Preheat a cast iron skillet over high heat. No oil is necessary.
Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. (Don’t add all of the water at once.) Mix together with your hands, and begin kneading the dough. It should stick together and hold its shape. Add additional water as you need it. Make tortillas in the size of a large English walnut. Flatten each ball of dough on the tortilla maker. Press the dough down. Transfer to the dry skillet and brown several minutes on both sides. They should puff up with brown spots. Transfer the cooked tortillas to layers of paper towels that have been moistened with water. Place in the low oven to keep them warm and pliable.
Yield: about 18 (6 inch) tortillas
Connie’s Notes: Practice will make perfect. I found the Masa de Nixtamal in a Mexico City grocery store. It is a better masa than what I have found in Chicago mainstream markets. Check out your ethnic Hispanic grocery stores and ask them what masa they recommend. When I made my first batch of tortillas, I thought a little salt was necessary, so I’ve added a small amount to the recipe on the package. As on the taco stands in Mexico City, cover the tortilla maker with plastic wrap so the dough doesn’t stick. A seasoned cast iron skillet works better for me than a griddle to cook the tortillas.