Something about the hot summer weather makes me crave spicy flavors and grilled food. Maybe nostalgia is to blame, specifically memories of summer cook-outs and my family’s love of all things Tex-Mex. We are firm believers that seven-layer dip is a food group, and that “mild” anything is for wimps.
The first time I had a taco with something other than chicken or ground beef, I was living in Fort Lauderdale and was introduced to the fish taco. It was served with a light cabbage slaw which was weird at first, but quickly won me over. The bright flavors of the lime and cilantro and the crunch of the cabbage was the perfect complement to the fish. It’s like a purist’s version of a taco…no salsa, no sour cream…just a tortilla, fish, and slaw.
This recipe is a play on the traditional fish taco. I've substituted grilled shrimp for the fish, and upped the ante by adding a chipotle glaze. The spicy, smoky flavor of the peppers is balanced by the addition of lime and a subtle sweetness of honey.
The slaw is bright and colorful, using red cabbage, carrots, cilantro and nothing but fresh lime juice and olive oil as the dressing. It also adds a nice cooling effect to the spicy chipotle.
Fresh avocado and Cotija cheese round out the flavors to create a delicious and somewhat healthy summer dish. Pair with a Mexican beer of your choice and relish the heat!
Grilled Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw and Fresh Avocado
Yields: 4 servings
Special Equipment Needed: Grill (gas or charcoal), Blender or Food Processor
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (21/25 count)
Several corn tortillas
2 avocadoes, diced
1 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
½ small red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 2-3 cups)
1 cup shredded carrots
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 2 limes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
Pinch of salt and pepper
7 oz. can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (found in the Mexican ethnic section of grocery store)
2 Tbsp. honey
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of salt
Prepare the slaw: Combine all slaw ingredients and toss to combine. Refrigerate while preparing rest of ingredients.
Prepare the chipotle glaze: Use a food processor or blender to puree all the glaze ingredients until incorporated. Set aside.
Skewer the shrimp and spray both sides with a nonstick cooking spray.
Light a grill and turn to medium heat. Let the inside temp come up to about 400 degrees F.
Brush both sides of the shrimp with the chipotle glaze. Place the shrimp skewers on the grill and cook with lid closed about 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque all the way through.
Warm tortillas on grill, about 15 seconds on each side.
Assemble tacos with shrimp, slaw, crumbled Cotija cheese, and fresh avocado. Drizzle some of the slaw juice onto each taco, or serve with your favorite salsa, and enjoy!
Use a separate, smaller bowl for the glaze meant for the shrimp, adding a few tablespoons at a time. That way the brush that touches the raw shrimp won't contaminate the main supply of the glaze, which means it can be used for other purposes.
The leftover chipotle glaze can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. You can use it on chicken, beef, or add a little to ranch dressing to make chipotle ranch.
Many stores now sell shredded carrots, but if you can’t find them, you can use a box grater or food processor to shred your own.
If you can’t find Cotija cheese, try using feta, mozzarella, or Monterey jack.