As a combination of a high-end food and something we can easily get from any food cart, the idea of shrimp tacos may seem unlikely to some, but we assure you it’s a match made in heaven! Regardless of whether you are in need of a quick lunch recipe, or need a light dinner for the warm days to come, shrimp tacos are your best bet!
Why Your Tacos Should Include Shrimp
The very obvious reason is: shrimp are incredibly tasty! So, you don’t really need a reason to eat a fresh ocean reminiscing taco, however here are some of the qualities of shrimp that will make you even more eager to eat them.
They are low in calories. In fact, a medium sized shrimp contains around 7 calories. Yes, you’ve read it right, 7! This means that even if you eat a dozen you will still have a long way to go to fulfill the daily recommended intake (2000 calories). If you go for jumbo shrimp, one contains 14 calories, still better than eating a pig in a blanket, for instance.
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At the expense of being low in calories, they are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, a jumbo shrimp contains around 3 grams of protein, and three ounces of baked or broiled shrimp will provide you with stunning 20 grams of protein. This amounts to nearly half of the daily intake for a sedentary woman, (46 grams per day), and it is also a good portion for men (the intake for the for the average sedentary man being 56 grams per day).
As the cherry on top, shrimp are rich in antioxidants, more precisely astaxanthin and selenium. The first is the pigment which gives shrimp their color, and the second is a mineral that has immunity-boosting functions. Both of these antioxidants help in fighting free radicals, thus preventing premature aging and diseases.
Now that we’ve seen the health benefits shrimp provide, it is time to learn how to prepare shell-on shrimp.
How to Peel Shrimp for Shrimp Tacos
Although you can always buy peeled and deveined shrimp, opting for shell-on shrimp is a great idea, and we have three reasons for claiming this. For one, you won’t have to lighten your wallet. Then, you can be 100% sure the shrimp meat is fresh and last, but not least, you can save the shells to prepare a shrimp stock. You can either make the stock as a starter that same day or just place the shells in a plastic bag and freeze them for some other day. Bear in mind that you can do the peeling part prior to cooking or after that. In fact, keeping the shell on the shrimp during cooking will actually enhance the flavor of the shrimp. Since the shell is full of flavor itself and keeps the shrimp’s juices in. So, you might want to cook them with the shell intact. If, however, you still want to peel the shrimp prior to cooking it, here’re some of the ways you can do it.
- Ways to peel shrimp
Before going into a detailed explanation on how to prepare your shell-on shrimp for the best shrimp taco, you should know that there are a number of ways to peel shrimp. It all comes down to the specific recipe, and to your preference. Say if you want a party-worthy presentation, then leaving the tails on makes every sense. If on the other hand, you want to serve shrimp to your kids, the best way to go is to completely remove the shell. In short, you will see recipes that will require shrimp with head-and-tail-on, other recipes will call for shrimp peeled tail-on, and, lastly, there are recipes like those for shrimp tacos that will require completely peeled shrimp. You can go about peeling the shrimp using your hands, or using a kitchen tool like kitchen shears or paring knife.
- Peeling the Shrimp by Hand
First of all, you should twist gently to remove the head. Then, if you don’t want the legs, pull them off as well. Now, as opposed to when you are doing it with a paring knife, when you cut where the shell is the hardest, this time you should work your thumbs underneath the shell’s softer part (along the underside), break the shell open, peel off and that’s it :).
- Peeling the Shrimp with Kitchen Shears
A little more sophisticated way to go about peeling the shrimp is by a using paring knife or kitchen shears. Use the shears to cut along the top of the shrimp. Do this by inserting the tip of the shears between the shrimp and the top of the shell then start to gently cut the shell along its length. As soon as you reach the tail, stop cutting, and start peeling back the shell. Provided that the recipe calls for a tail on shrimp, you are done. And if you need a completely peeled shrimp pinch the tail off where it meets the body of the shrimp with a gentle tug, and voila, the shrimp will pull cleanly out. Now that you can pride yourselves with having mastered the art of shrimp peeling, go ahead and give one of the following recipes a try. We have divided them into 3 groups according to the manner of peeling, saving the best (the shrimp tacos) for last.
How to Devein Shrimps for Shrimp Tacos
Although it is called a vein, and the process of removing it is called deveining, this organ is actually the shrimp’s digestive tract. This string looking organ is filled with dark grit and runs along the back of the shrimp, just beneath the back’s surface. Whether the vein is visible or not will be tightly connected to what the shrimp was eating just before it was caught. This means that if the vein is not visible, you shouldn’t even bother with the process of deveining. But if you do see it, and you don’t want it there you can discard it in no time.
You will need to gently run a paring knife along the back of the shrimp, making sure the cut you are making isn’t too deep (around ¼ inch is ok). Using the tip of the knife pull up the vein, starting near the top and continuing to the bottom. If it breaks, which shouldn’t be the case since the vein is pretty elastic, just pick it up again and keep pulling, it will eventually come out. A great piece of advice would be keeping the shrimps in a bowl of ice or ice water up until you decide to prepare them.
The Key to Perfect Shrimp Tacos
It all comes down to balanced flavors. So the best way to go about is to make the shrimp spicy and then combine them with fresh additions to tone them down a bit. Something we want to stress out is: using tortillas other than corn tortillas, would be a blasphemy. Now, let’s see what you need to make the perfect spicy shrimp:
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
1 clove garlic, minced
20 prawns peeled and deveined as instructed above
2 tablespoon olive oil
In a large bowl mix all of the above-mentioned ingredients, except for the shrimp and olive oil, together. Proceed to pat the shrimp dry with paper towels (since we already said that you should keep them in a bowl of ice) then add the shrimp in and toss everything to coat entirely. Using a plastic wrap, cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will allow the shrimp to absorb all the flavors, and you won’t have to worry about your shrimp tacos being bland. Heat a skillet over medium heat and proceed to add a tablespoon of the olive oil. You can use any vegetable oil, but to get that perfect Mediterranean feel we do recommend the olive oil. Cook the shrimp until they turn pink, or for around 5 minutes.
Use the rest of the oil (1 tablespoons) to coat the bottom of a medium pan, and cook the tortillas one at a time 30 seconds per side. Fold them over to make a taco shell. Place them on paper towels to get rid of any excess oil.
Now, to balance things out make sure the add-ins you serve your tacos with are fresh and cool. We recommend spreading a spoonful of avocado on the corn tortillas, topping them with coleslaw or lettuce, and finishing off with lime wedges. You can even prepare your very own salsa, guacamole, or Pico de Gallo. You really can’t go wrong!
Go ahead and make the best of Spring, prepare delicious shrimp tacos, get a cold drink and soak up the sun!