Posts Tagged 'Shrimp'

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)
Last Saturday, we had a party where we served Mexican food.  I even invested in a tortilla press and tried my hand at making fresh tortillas.  Unfortunately, despite my best efforts to prepare in advance, I was too busy and too tired to take pictures to generate a blog post.

But armed with a new tortilla maker and some left over ingredients, I wanted to try to make more Mexican food.  I haven’t made a lot of Mexican food previously.  When we lived in California, Mexican food was omnipresent.  They even served passable tacos at the corporate cafeteria.  In northern Virginia, good tacos are few and far between.

Given that there were shrimp in the freezer, shrimp tacos seemed a wise choice.  These tacos are very easy to make.  The cooking of the shrimp is somewhat unconventional but it does work.  Given the flavoring of the tacos, they would be just as good, if not better, served either at room temperature or chilled on a hot day.

Camarones a la Vinagreta (Shrimp with Lime Dressing)
Adapted from Authentic Mexican 20th Anniversary Ed: Regional Cooking from the Heart of Mexico

For the shrimp:
1 quart water
1 lime, halved
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground allspice
3 bay leaves
12 oz. shell-on shrimp

For the dressing:

1/2 small red onion, coarsely diced
1 medium tomato, cored and diced
1 1/2 tbsp dice cilantro
2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. In a sauce pan, combine the water, black pepper, allspice, and bay leaves.  Squeeze the limes and add them to the sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Uncover the sauce pan, turn the heat to high, add the shrimp, cover, and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and drain off the liquid.  Keep the pan covered and set aside for 15 minutes.
  4. Peel the shrimp and cut them into 1/2″ pieces.
  5. Combine the red onion, tomato, and cilantro in a bow with the shrimp.
  6. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and vegetable oil.  Pour over the shrimp mixture.
  7. Serve the shrimp mixture in tortillas.

Serves 2-3.


Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp Tacos)

Shrimp Tacos

This recipe comes as a bit of a request. I felt a bit strange making it as we have a good and cheap taqueria nearby but at least they don’t serve shrimp tacos.  I did have some mediocre shrimp tacos the other day so I really wasn’t expecting much from this recipe.

And how wrong I was.  This may have been the best shrimp I’ve ever had (I’m debating whether or not it’s better than Gamberi alla Cannavota).  The shrimp were well browned and took on the flavorings of the aromatics perfectly.

Cooking Shrimp for Tacos

I’m going to segue here a bit and do a product anti-endorsement: whatever you do, don’t buy Whole Food’s Organic Corn Tortillas.  We tried to use them to make tacos and they were nearly inedible.  They were some of the worst corn tortillas I’ve ever eaten.

On the plus side, the shrimp were good enough to eat without a tortilla wrapper.  In fact, the shrimp in this recipe would be good enough served over rice of some sort.

The only modification to the recipe I made was to add a step to brine the shrimp.  It means that it takes slightly longer for the whole recipe (which is already very short) but it really helps with the flavor and texture of the shrimp.

This has to be one of the best bang-for-your effort recipes I’ve seen in awhile.  The shrimp are excellent and there’s very little work needed to make this.  It’s also rather fast.  It does create a bit of smoke however.

Ingedients for Shrimp Tacos

Tacos de Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (Shrimp Tacos)
Adapted from Dona Tomas: Discovering Authentic Mexican Cooking

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
4 cups ice
1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and split lengthwise
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 jalapeño, sliced thinly
2 tbsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
16 corn tortillas
1 lime (for serving)

  1. Bring the water, salt, and sugar to a boil over high heat.  Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl.   Add the ice.
  2. When the ice has melted, add the shrimp and brine for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, remove the shrimp from the bowl and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  3. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat.  When the pan is hot, add the oil and the onions.  Stir the onions several times, then add the shrimp.
  4. Cook the shrimp for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until they start to turn red.
  5. Add the butter, jalapeño, and garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Remove from the heat.  Adjust the seasoning to taste and stir in the parsley.
  7. Place the tortillas in stacks of two on plates.  Divide the shrimp among the tortillas.
  8. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Gamberi alla Cannavota (The Shrimp of Trattoria Cannavota)


When I first tasted these shrimp, my response was “best shrimp ever.” To be honest, I’m prone to hyperbole. However, this time I wasn’t exaggerating. These were the most exquisite shrimp I’ve ever tasted. The quality of the shrimp themselves wasn’t particularly high: they were frozen farmed shrimp from Trader Joe’s.

The blessing and the curse of shrimp is that they have a relatively mild flavor. Shrimp just don’t taste particularly much like shrimp. And, frankly, most shrimp applications are lacking. I wish I had the idea of making a shrimp stock to use in the sauce to go with the shrimp. It makes perfect sense: it’s similar to using chicken stock for pan sauce for chicken.

But, because shrimp are so small, the flavoring of the stock goes even further. The shrimp manage to absorb a lot of the flavor from the shrimp stock even though they’re only cooked in it briefly. With apologies to Julia Child, the shrimp tasted more shrimpy.


The recipe itself is pretty straightforward. You make a shrimp stock with the shrimp shells. Then the shrimp are pan-fried in olive oil and a reduction is made with some garlic and the shrimp stock. The only modification I made to the recipe were to use dry vermouth instead of white wine and to brine the shrimp.

If you think that brining poultry makes a difference, wait until you try it on shrimp. It improves the texture immensely and it also means that there’s a larger window for cooking the shrimp in. It also doesn’t take very long which is nice.

If you like shrimp, I implore you to try this recipe. It really is that good.


Gamberi alla Cannavota (The Shrimp of Trattoria Cannavota)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking

For the Shrimp Stock:
1 lbs. shrimp shells
1 small carrot, cut into three pieces
1/2 onion, peeled and cut in half
1 stalk celery, cut into three pieces
2/3 cup dry vermouth
4 cup water

For the Shrimp:
1 cup water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
6 ice cubes

1 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 tbsp softened butter
2 tbsp parsley, diced

  1. Combine all the ingredients for the shrimp stock in a sauce pan. Cook at a high simmer over medium-low to medium heat for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the shrimp stock is reduced to 1 cup. Drain the stock through a strainer and reserve the stock. This can be prepared in advance and the shrimp stock refrigerated until used.
  2. Put 1 cup of water, the kosher salt, and the sugar in a sauce pan over high heat. Stir the contents until the salt and sugar are desolved in the water. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl. Add the ice cubes. When the brine is cool, add the shrimp for 15 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the brine and pat dry.
  3. In a large sautée pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until just before smoking. Add the shrimp and cooked until they are lightly golden on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Remove the shrimp to a plate.
  4. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Add the vermouth and the shrimp stock. Increase the heat to high and reduce the stock until it is a medium consistency. Taste for seasoning.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium and add the shrimp, butter, and parsley. Mix the contents well and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Serve the shrimp in bowls with good bread.

Serves 2 to 3.