CRISPY SHRIMP TACOS

Handy, ver­sa­tile, fill­ing as a sand­wich and crunchy to boot. What’s not to love?

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SARA MOUL­TON

From taco trucks to Mex­i­can restau­rants, tacos are just about ev­ery­where these days.

And why not? A taco is ex­actly as handy, ver­sa­tile and fill­ing as a sand­wich, and crunchy to boot.

Lots of folks dream of mak­ing these fried corn tor­tillas at home, but some pull up short at the prospect of hav­ing to deep-fry them.

The so­lu­tion? Don’t fry them. Bak­ing will bring tacos to crispy per­fec­tion and al­low you to shape them into shells in the process.

That said, I dis­cov­ered while de­vel­op­ing this recipe for Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Cole Slaw and Chipo­tle Cream that not all corn tor­tillas are cre­ated equal. Some are thicker and some are thin­ner. Some are drier and some are moister.

Given that there’s no way of pre­dict­ing these qual­i­ties in the brands you buy at the store, you just need to pay at­ten­tion to the tor­tillas as they bake and ad­just ac­cord­ingly. Some brands will re­quire more time than others to be­come crispy.

Be­fore be­ing baked, the tor­tillas need to be steamed a bit so they don’t crack when you shape them. Then you brush them very lightly on both sides with oil (or with veg­etable oil spray, if you pre­fer), drape them di­rectly over a bar of the oven rack and bake them un­til crispy. (See recipe for de­tails.)

I rec­om­mend bak­ing them in two batches of four tor­tillas each be­cause when you open the oven to shape them, the oven tem­per­a­ture drops. If you’re shap­ing all eight at once, the tem­per­a­ture will drop a lot and the tor­tillas will take for­ever to crisp.

The shells can be made ahead and parked in a bowl at room tem­per­a­ture. Then you can turn to the prepa­ra­tion of which­ever fill­ings you want. (Here I pro­pose coleslaw, grilled shrimp and chipo­tle cream.) When the din­ner bell chimes, just set out all the fix­ings and let peo­ple dig in for them­selves.

Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Cole Slaw and Chipo­tle Cream MAKES 4 SERV­INGS

Eight 6-inch corn tor­tillas 3 ta­ble­spoons veg­etable oil, plus ex­tra for brush­ing the tor­tillas ¼ cup may­on­naise (low-fat if you pre­fer) ¼ cup Greek yo­gurt or sour cream 1 tea­spoon minced chipo­tle in adobo sauce ½ tsp adobo sauce from the can 1 tbsp plus 2½ tsp fresh lime juice 3 cups finely shred­ded cab­bage 1 cup coarsely shred­ded car­rots 1 cup thin strips red bell pep­per (about 1-inch long) 1 pound medium shrimp (31/35), peeled and de­veined 1 firm ripe av­o­cado, cut into cubes ½ cup cilantro leaves

Start to fin­ish: 1 hour

Pre­heat the oven to 375 F. Wrap four tor­tillas in foil and heat them on the mid­dle shelf of the oven un­til they are pli­able, about five min­utes (or wrap them in a moist towel and mi­crowave them for 30 sec­onds).

Re­move them from the foil, brush them lightly on both sides with the oil and care­fully (so as not to burn your­self ) drape each tor­tilla over a metal bar on the mid­dle rack of the oven so that the sides of the tor­tillas are hang­ing down and bake them for five min­utes.

Open the oven, and us­ing tongs, lift up the tor­tillas, spread them open a bit by pulling the two sides apart (they will still be pli­able), and bake them on the rack for an­other three to five min­utes or un­til they are crispy all over. Prep and bake the re­main­ing four tor­tillas fol­low­ing the same pro­ce­dure.

Mean­while in a small bowl com­bine the may­on­naise, yo­gurt, chipo­tle, adobo sauce and 1 tea­spoon of the lime juice and stir well.

Add salt to taste and about 1 ta­ble­spoon wa­ter or enough to make the sauce pourable.

In a medium bowl com­bine the cab­bage, car­rots, red pep­per, re­main­ing 1½ ta­ble­spoons lime juice, 1 ta­ble­spoon of the veg­etable oil and salt to taste, and toss well.

Pre­heat the grill to medium. In a medium bowl toss the shrimp with the re­main­ing 2 ta­ble­spoons oil and salt. Thread the shrimp onto skew­ers (prefer­ably dou­ble skew­ers) and grill them, turn­ing them once for two to three min­utes to­tal or un­til just cooked through. Trans­fer to a serv­ing bowl.

To serve: Put all of the com­po­nents of the tacos — the shrimp, coleslaw, av­o­cado, chipo­tle cream and cilantro — onto a serv­ing plat­ter and let your guests build their own tacos.

Per serv­ing: 486 calo­ries (249 from fat); 28 grams fat (4 g sat­u­rated; 0 g trans fats); 150 mil­ligrams choles­terol; 861 mg sodium; 39 g car­bo­hy­drate; 11 g fi­bre; 9 g sugar; 21 g pro­tein.

SARA MOUL­TON, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bak­ing will bring tacos to crispy per­fec­tion and al­low you to shape them into shells in the process.

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