Baja Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Mayo
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Delicious food-truck style baja shrimp tacos drizzled with chipotle mayo. These baja shrimp tacos have jumbo panko-crusted shrimp with pickled red onions, jalapenos, buttery sauteed cabbage and queso fresco. These tacos are sure to be a family favorite!
Hello Summer! These baja shrimp tacos are totally here to welcome you. These tacos would like to convince you to stay forever so that they may be enjoyed with good friends on a patio with the sun setting on the horizon. How’s that for a visual? Have I got you craving tacos and summer sun?
The hubby and I are ob-sessed with shrimp tacos. We absolutely cannot get enough! I think i’ve probably tried 1000 very different versions of a baja shrimp taco over my lifetime. I’ve tried ginormous shrimp tacos with everything but the kitchen sink stuffed inside. And I’ve tried super petite, itty-bitty ones on our honeymoon that felt more like appetizers than a meal. I felt a strong urge to raise my pinky while I ate them because they were soo small. We fancy!
So after eating a bajillion shrimp tacos, I set out to create a recipe for my favorite one. These shrimp tacos are inspired by Torchy’s baja shrimp tacos. I absolutely love their version. It’s a flavor explosion when you bite into one of these. Like the room goes spinning, your mind and tongue are trying to sync themselves because these tacos are like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Like. ever.
The shrimp in these shrimp tacos are crispy-crunchy. The secret is to let the shrimp sit in a little bit of buttermilk then they take a dunk in flour, back into buttermilk, and finally you roll them around in the panko. I used whole-wheat panko this time, but regular panko works great too.
Here is why Panko is better than regular breadcrumbs in my Baja shrimp taco recipe:
Panko is bread that is coarsely ground into large flakes. Panko stays crispier longer than regular breadcrumbs because it does not absorb as much of the oil in the frying process. It makes it easier to heat up leftovers too! Just place the shrimp on a baking sheet lined with foil and place in a toaster oven. Let them toast up for a few minutes. They’ll be just as crunchy as they were the night before!
Here’s how you make the pickled onions for this recipe: All you need to do is combine 1/2 a cup of apple cider vinegar, a few tablespoons of granulated sugar and a big pinch of salt. Whisk it together and let the onions just soak up that goodness. You can leave them in there from anywhere between 1 hour – 1 week. You can place the onions along with the cider vinegar mixture in a jar. Just give it a good shake every now and then, this ensures all the onions are properly coated. This is the perfect step to get done over the weekend so that this meal is weeknight-friendly.
For the chipotle mayo recipe: In a small food processor just mix together 4 small chipotle peppers (the stuff that comes in a can), along with 2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce that they are packed in, and 1 cup of mayo. Give it a good whiz and you’ve got delicious chipotle mayo ready to go. You can definitely do this over the weekend too. The sauce is good for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. But, let me tell you, I doubt that it’ll last that long! I actually made 1/2 of this batch the first time I was recipe testing. And it wasn’t enough for us! I had to double the recipe to make sure that you had enough sauce to go along with these tacos.
Psst… this sauce is delectable in turkey sandwiches too. It jazzes up weekday lunches wonderfully!
I know it may seem like there are a lot of steps, but trust me, the first time you make these, you’ll understand why I’m urging you to do so. In fact, you must because you will thank me later. It’s homework.
I know it also seems like there are a lot of ingredients going into these babies. But food-truck food, in my opinion, is just that. It’s got a million and one things shoved inside to produce the most powerful flavor experience. That’s what I’m trying to do here. Keep you coming back for more Baja shrimp tacos.
I want you to picture this >> slightly zingy, spicy chipotle mayo, with tart and sweet pickled onions, buttery cabbage, tamed, pickled jalapenos, and jumbo, sweet shrimp in a super crunchy panko crust all wrapped inside soft, flour tortillas.
Omg. If my stomach was rumbling before…
I want you to make these this weekend. That is exactly why I waited till Friday to share these with you. It was hard, but I had to.
For the pickled onions:
- 1/2 large red onion
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the chipotle mayo sauce:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 4 chipotle peppers + 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (the stuff the peppers are packed in)
For the sauteed cabbage:
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 1/2 cups cabbage
- 1 cup matchstick carrots
For the shrimp:
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, divided
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 1 - 1 1/2 pounds large shrimp
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Oil, for frying
For assembling the baja shrimp tacos:
- Flour or corn tortillas
- Hot or tamed jalapeno peppers
- fresh cilantro leaves
- queso fresco
To make the pickled onions:
- In an empty jar that has a tight lid, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Cap the jar and shake until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the onions inside and shake to ensure the onions are covered. Place in the refrigerator. Onions are ready in 1 hour but can be left to pickle up to 1 week.
To make the chipotle mayo:
- In a mini food processor, blend the mayonnaise with the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and 1/4 cup buttermilk. Refrigerate. Sauce can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make the sauteed cabbage:
- Heat a skillet until very hot. Add the butter, cabbage and carrots and cook over high heat for just 1 minute. Set aside.
To make the panko crusted shrimp:
- In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp in 1/4 cup of buttermilk and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a shallow baking dish, combine the flour and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. In a small bowl, pour the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk. In another shallow baking dish, pour out the panko breadcrumbs. Start by dipping the shrimp in flour, then the buttermilk and finally the panko.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 inch of oil to 350°. Fry shrimp in batches until golden, about 2 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels.
To assemble the baja shrimp tacos:
- Heat up the tortillas in a skillet. Spoon some of the cabbage into the center of each tortilla and top with 2 fried shrimp. Sprinkle with jalapeños, pickled red onions, cilantro and queso fresco. Drizzle with the chipotle mayo. Serve tacos with lime wedges. Serve immediately.
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