Earlier this year, my friends and I visited a seafood taco truck in Los Angeles. This truck, Mariscos Jalisco, is especially famous for its fried crispy shrimp tacos smothered in homemade salsa. I never had a taco like this before and they were absolutely amazing. Inspired by my visit, I decided to make my own version at home. Are these shrimp tacos the same as Mariscos Jaliscos? No, but I promise you, they are also incredibly delicious!
Crispy Shrimp Tacos
- 1 lb tomatillos husk removed
- ¼ red onion peeled
- 2 chili de arbol
- ¼ cup cilantro
- ½ teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- salt and pepper
- 1 lb shrimp peeled, deveined, tail off
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- oil as needed
- 8 corn tortillas
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
- 2 avocados diced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 tomatoes diced
- ¼ cup cilantro chopped
- 1 cup cotija
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Remove the husk from the tomatillos and the skin from the red onion. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until softened and lightly charred.
- Place the chili de arbol in hot water for 10 minutes or until rehydrated. Drain the water.
- Blend together tomatillo, red onion, chili de arbol, ¼ cup cilantro, ½ teaspoon garlic, and 1 teaspoon sugar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Combine the seasonings for the shrimp including 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin, ½ teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Season the shrimp with enough seasoning mixture to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saute pan over medium heat and add the shrimp. Cook the shrimp until pink and firm, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and chop into small chunks.
- Spread ¼ cup shredded Mexican cheese onto one side of the tortillas. Place the chopped shrimp on top and fold the tortilla in half.
- Heat enough oil in a saute pan to cover the bottom over medium-high heat. Add the tortillas to the pan, working in batches. Cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until browned, another 2 minutes. Remove the tacos from the pan and drain excess oil on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tacos.
- Top the tacos with tomatillo salsa, chopped avocado, shredded cabbage, chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, and cotija. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Usually, shrimp tacos have fried battered shrimp wrapped in a corn tortilla. This crispy shrimp taco is different in that the entire taco is pan-fried. The actual taco is actually very easy to prepare; it's the toppings that take more work. If you want to save some time, make the tomatillo salsa the day before.
To make the salsa, start by roasting the tomatillos and red onion. You want the vegetables to be slightly charred and softened. While they're cooking in the oven, rehydrate the chili de arbol in hot water. Two chilis delivered just enough heat for me but you can always add more if you're feeling brave.
Drain the water from the chilis and blend all of the ingredients for the salsa together until smooth. The salsa will be a little tart but this will help cut the heaviness of the tacos.
Prepare the remaining toppings including the chopped tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, shredded cabbage, and crumbled cotija.
Now let's make the shrimp. Season the seafood with chili powder, paprika, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Saute the shrimp, chop them into small chunks and lay them on half of a corn tortilla with shredded Mexican cheese. You want to use corn tortillas and not flour tortillas because flour tortillas just won't get that same crispiness.
Fold the top of the tortilla over and cook them in a pan with oil until crispy on both sides. We're not deep frying the tacos but there should be enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Cook the remaining tacos, adding more oil as needed. Once the crispy shrimp tacos are golden brown on both sides, drain them on paper towels to remove the excess oil.
Top the tacos with tomatillo salsa, avocado, tomatoes, cabbage, cilantro, and cotija. Give them a give squeeze of lime and take one giant bite. I wasn't quite sure how good these tacos would be but let me tell you, they were beyond words. So far I have tried these tacos with fish, shrimp, and chicken, all delivering. Delicious.
For more taco inspiration check out these chipotle mojo pork tacos!