Saturday, April 23, 2011

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana

When I have a craving for Mexican food and am on the hunt for a good recipe, I look no further than Rick Bayless. I own a number of his cookbooks, am a huge fan of his line of Frontera line of products, love his TV show, Mexico-One Plate at a Time on PBS and am dreaming of the day I get to visit one of his restaurants in Chicago. I've made a number of his recipes and have never once been disappointed in the result, this recipe being no exception. I picked this recipe out to try simply because I had a big bag of jumbo shrimp I wanted to use and a craving for Mexican food. This recipe was originally intended as an appetizer on tostadas, but I used this delicious shrimp mixture as a soft taco filling for a light and fresh dinner, along with a side of black beans cooking with onion, garlic, and spices. The tacos will be even more extraordinary if you make your own fresh corn tortillas, which I prefer to do when I have the time, but won't disappoint with store-bought tortillas. Although a fabulous dinner now, this dish is perfectly suited for a lingering dinner on the patio on a hot summer day, accompanied by a crisp cold beer and good company.

Avocado-Dressed Shrimp a la Mexicana
adapted slightly from Rick Bayless
makes 12 small tacos, serving 4 as a main course

12 ounces jumbo cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined, each cut into 4 or 5 pieces
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, rinsed under cold running water and drained
1/4 cup finely chopped recipe ready sun-dried tomatoes, plus extra for garnish (not oil-packed)
1/4 to 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
Hot green chiles to taste (usually 3 serranos  or 1 to 2 jalapenos), stemmed and roughly chopped
1 medium, ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin
1/3 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro (thick bottom stems cut off), plus extra for garnish
12 small corn tortillas

1. In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, and 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato.

2. Measure the lime juice into a food processor or blender.  Cover and turn on.  Drop the chiles and when chopped, turn off and scoop in the avocado and cilantro.  Process until smooth.  Thin to a "creamy dressing" consistency with water, usually 2 to 3 tablespoons.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1 teaspoon.  (You will have about 1 1/2 cups.) 

3. Mix the dressing into the shrimp mixture.  Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the shrimp and refrigerate.  When you're ready to serve, scoop into the tortillas (about 1/4 cup per tortilla) and decorate with cilantro and diced sun-dried tomatoes.

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