Spicy Shrimp Tacos

Beat the weather with these spicy tacos.

The bleaker the weather, the brighter the food, I say. January can be a cold, wet, and dark second act following the holiday season. A perfect antidote is to create light and vibrant food to ward off the seasonal blues and balance out any holiday excess. These tacos channel the south and beyond the border with blackened shrimp piled on Baja-inspired tacos. They are vibrant and wholesome; not bogged down by any heavy sauces, cheeses, and meat. A citrusy salsa and fresh avocado are light and healthy accompaniments refreshing in their simplicity. The tacos are easy to prepare, only requiring just a fair amount of chopping, which is a simple activity that distracts from any inclement weather outside. And, perhaps best of all, they are fun to eat, inviting interaction and hands-on noshing.

The blackened spice blend is meant to have heat, but feel free to adjust the cayenne to your taste. In fact, make a double batch to keep on hand to season fish and chicken for later meals. Store any remaining spice blend in a jar in your pantry.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos
Serves: 4
Active time: 25 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Crema:
2/3 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or to taste
Pinch of kosher salt

Salsa:
1 cup grape tomatoes, chopped
1 cup defrosted frozen yellow corn
1 small poblano pepper, seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spices:
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

24 large (18/20) shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails intact optional
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large ripe but firm avocado, halved, sliced crosswise
Flour or corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Lime wedges

  1. Whisk the crema ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until use.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the salsa ingredients, and then taste for seasoning.
  3. Combine the spices in a small bowl. Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil in a large bowl. Add the spices and stir to thoroughly coat the shrimp.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat. Carefully arrange the shrimp in one layer in the pan, without over-crowding (in batches if necessary). Cook until charred and cooked through the center, about 4 minutes, turning once.
  5. To serve, arrange a few slices of avocado on a warmed tortilla. Spoon some of the salsa over, then top with shrimp. Drizzle with some of the crema. Garnish with cilantro and serve with the lime wedges for squeezing.

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