Saturday, October 6, 2012

Garlic Shrimp Tacos

Even though we are in the midst of a kitchen remodel, it doesn't mean I've stopped cooking. As far as I'm concerned, as long as I have access to the range and a sink, I'll work around the chaos. Cooking is just something I need to do and really love.

For this latest dish, I drew inspiration from a recent lunch at The Purple Toucan, right here in Corozal. I ordered their garlic shrimp tacos and was not disappointed. Four small tortillas, each with a schmear of what I think was a crema-based sauce, were covered with yummy garlic grilled shrimp, and topped with some small diced tomatoes and cucumbers. For the first time in a long while, I cleaned every tidbit from my plate (I'm generally not a big eater).

To put my own twist on things, I decided to use large tortillas and opted for more of a salad mixture for the topping.

I got the party started by heating up some olive oil in a large saute pan, then added some crushed garlic cloves and a pinch of crushed red pepper.

While waiting for the garlic to brown, I placed my peeled, deveined shrimp into a casserole dish. As an aside, is there anything more tedious than peeling and deveining shrimp? Don't get me wrong, I love shrimp. But pulling off those shells and making all those butterfly knife cuts really tests my Zen meter. I rank it right up there with the tedium of painting louvered doors or ornate wrought iron work. But a girl's gotta' do, what a girl's gotta' do, especially if you can't buy the suckers already cleaned up.

But I digress. Before long, my garlic had fulfilled its destiny by becoming aromatic and a lovely brown. 

The cloves got pulled from the pool, and I poured the warm olive oil over the shrimp, which had already been tossed with some salt and pepper.

Next up was working with probably one of my most favorite ingredients...BACON! Why it isn't considered one of the major food groups is beyond me. 

I browned up a few bacon strips (oh, mercy)...

...drained them on a paper towel, set them aside for later use, and resisted the urge to scarf them all done in one go.

I popped the shrimp into a pre-heated 450 degree oven for eight minutes and started working on my salad-style topping.

I grabbed a bunch of arugula from our garden and chopped that into about 1/2 inch pieces. Next, I seeded and chopped a tomato and half an avocado to about the same size. The bacon got crumbled and added to the mix (with only a few small pieces eaten for the purpose of ascertaining their doneness...really!), along with some feta cheese. A sprinkling of salt, a touch of ground black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, the juice from half a lime, and a gentle toss finished it up.

By this point, the shrimp were ready to come out of the oven.

While they may be tedious to prep, they do make my heart sing when they look like this.

Once they cooled off a touch, I put some of the salad mixture on a tortilla, then added as many shrimp as possible without running the risk of tearing the tortilla, and rolled those babies up.

It only took one bite for David and I to proclaim this a home run. The shrimp were plump and juicy from their oil roasting, the arugula provided a lovely crunch that was balanced nicely by the creaminess of the avocado. Add the slight saltiness from the feta and BACON(!), and my, oh my, I'll be making this again.

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