Shrimp Tacos on the Blackstone

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

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Shrimp Tacos on the Blackstone

Yeah, we missed National Taco Day…so what? Who came up with all of these food days anyways? Was there a committee of stuffy old men smelling of Old Spice and Icy Hot sitting around a large boardroom table? Or was it a bunch of young hipsters sipping on grande mocha soy frappe carmel latte espresso agave sugar coffee drinks while vaping their brains out and blowing huge clouds? Who cares? I’ll eat what I want, when I want and last night I wanted some shrimp tacos!! And more importantly I wanted to cook on my new Blackstone griddle, dammit!!

I usually prefer my shrimp tacos (and fish tacos) fried, but that’s not exactly healthy nor would it allow me to use my griddle. A quick search with my Google-fu skills found me this recipe over at Pinch of Yum and it sounded like it would fit the bill. This is our version cooked on the griddle  with a few modifications.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

For the Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of two limes
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of light sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs of shrimp, peeled with tail removed (we used 1.25 lbs of 21-25 count)
  • 1 tsp each of chili powder, cumin and chicken fajita seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 green cabbage, shredded
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • Queso Fresco, Cotija or Feta cheese
  • lime wedges for serving
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Warm up the tortillas until you begin to smell corn and they have become pliable. Only takes a minute or so.

To make the sauce, toss all the ingredients in a food processer and pulse until smooth. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss some of the sauce (not all of it!!) with the cabbage. It should resemble a coleslaw. This can be done right before hand, but we did ours about 2 hours ahead of time and placed in the fridge. The rest of the sauce can be used on your tacos.

Heat your griddle medium to medium high heat. Warm up the tortillas for a minute or so until you notice a corn smell and they have become pliable. Wrap in foil to keep warm. Even better would be one of those tortilla holders they have at Mexican restaurants. We, however, don’t have one of those so why the hell am I even bringing it up? I digress…

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Toss the shrimp on the griddle

When the tortillas are done, squirt some oil on the griddle and add a tbsp of butter. Then throw on the shrimp and cook 4-5 minutes or until done.

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Done!!

To serve the tacos, spread a spoonful of the sauce on a tortilla, top with a few shrimp, coleslaw, cheese and avocado and maybe some more sauce and squeeze a slice of lime on top.

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Who needs a National Taco Day to enjoy these shrimp tacos? Eat them whenever the hell you feel like it.

I gotta say, the more I use this griddle, the more I am liking it. It’s just so fun. And it heats up quick. A whole lot quicker than the Egg. Sure, we could have grilled these shrimp and they would have been just as good, but that would have taken longer. From the time I stepped outside and fired up the griddle, to the time I shut it off and went inside was less than 10 minutes!! That’s a fast cook!!

The tacos were fantastic. I tried one of the shrimp by itself, and I hafta say it had some heat. But when you add the slaw and the cheese and the sauce, it balances that heat perfectly. These are definitely going into the rotation, especially on nights when a fast cook is needed to get the food on the table.

Buffalo Shrimp

Buffalo Shrimp, plus one lonely regular ole shrimp.
Buffalo Shrimp, plus one lonely regular ole shrimp.

    

Wow!! Sometimes life just gets busy. Works been crazy with a move to a new lab and all that has entailed. Throw in the holidays, and things get put on the back burner. Hate to say it, but that’s what kinda has happened with this blog lately. Honestly, I meant to cook these lil shrimps up last night (12/4), but we had to go out and find a Christmas tree before this bad storm hit Dallas (12/5). I don’t know where in the world you are, but if the weather is anything like it is here in the DFW Metroplex, it’s pretty darn cold, wet and nasty and chances are you won’t be going in to work tomorrow. As cold as it is outside, these shrimp sure did warm us up inside.

Dredge station all set up.
Dredge station all set up.

     Those of you who have followed this blog for anytime, know that I have a deep love for wings. Anyway I can get them. Not only do I love wings, but I love Buffalo sauce. A little less known fact is that I love fried shrimp. Coated in cornmeal or flour, tempura or any other way. About once or twice a month, I get a craving and I have to satisfy it. It dawned on me the other day…why not combine fried shrimp and Buffalo sauce? Now, I’m no nutritionist and I could be totally wrong, but don’t you think Buffalo shrimp has to be a little bit healthier than Buffalo wings? And if not, who really cares? They were pretty damn tasty.

Regular ole fried shrimp
Regular ole fried shrimp

 Ingredients

  • 2 lb shrimp (21-25 count), peeled and deveined
  • 1.5 cups of cornmeal
  • 1 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, Cajun seasoning (we used Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom), pepper and salt
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (Frank’s)
  • canola oil for frying

For the Buffalo Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 lemon, squeezed
  • a coupla squirts of Sriracha
1/2 plain fried shrimp, 1/2 tossed in Buffalo sauce
1/2 plain fried shrimp, 1/2 tossed in Buffalo sauce

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200F.
  2. Pour about an inch and a half of oil in a cast iron skillet and heat to about 350-375F. While oil is heating, combine ingredients for the Buffalo sauce in a small sauce pan and heat on low to medium low. You just want to melt the butter and get warm. High heat will cause the sauce to break and that is no bueno.
  3. Fill a shallow dish with cornmeal and add the seasonings and stir until well mixed. In another bowl, beat two eggs and add milk and Frank’s hot sauce.
  4. Dip the shrimp in the egg mixture and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off excess cornmeal and fry the shrimp, about 6 at a time, 2 to 3 minutes a side or until golden brown. Remove shrimp to a cooling rack over a cookie sheet to allow oil to drain, and then dip shrimp in Buffalo sauce. Return the shrimp to the cooling rack and place in pre-heated oven. Continue with remaining shrimp until finished.
  5. If desired, drizzle on more Buffalo sauce when finished. Serve with ranch or bleu cheese and celery.
Dinner is served
Dinner is served

And if you like it a bit spicier and messier, don’t be afraid to drizzle more Buffalo sauce on the shrimp right before serving.

Messy can be a good thing!
Messy can be a good thing!

     I thought the shrimp turned out fantastic. Granted, they would have been better had I eaten them while still piping hot and not stopped to take pictures for the blog. Shrimp cool fast. Very, very fast. The sacrifices I make for you guys. Combining two of my favorite things, fried shrimp and Buffalo sauce? What’s not to like? I thought they were a hit. And while my wife likes fried shrimp and she likes Buffalo wings, she wasn’t the biggest fan. In her own words, “I don’t like that flavor on shrimp.” I guess she’s more of a purist and would rather let the shrimp stand by themselves. So one thumbs up and one thumbs down here in our casa. I guess you’ll just have to try them yourself and let me know who’s right and who’s wrong. Me or Mrs. G?

     And on a side note, the news just announced that Frisco ISD is closed tomorrow which means Mrs. G’s work is closed as well. Which means that I’m  not going to work tomorrow either. 🙂 Hope y’all have a good weekend. And if the weather in your neck of the woods is anything like ours, stay warm and stay safe.

Green Lightning Shrimp

Green Lightning Shrimp
Green Lightning Shrimp

     Do you have a recipe that’s been on your to-do list forever? Something that you keep meaning to cook, but for whatever reason you keep putting it off? I know I have a few, but green lightning shrimp has probably been on that list longer than anything else. Every once in a while, this recipe will resurface again on The Barbecue Bible Forum and I’ll think to myself, “Self, you really need to make this. Don’t put it off.” And I end up putting it off…again. Stupid Self.

     A few weeks ago, my friend Kristi at Necessary Indulgences mentioned on Facebook that she had some shrimp and did anybody have any ideas what she should do with it. Of course, green lightning shrimp immediately came to mind, so I suggested it but told her I had never cooked it before. She liked it so much, that once again it moved up my bucket list, but this time I was bound and determined that I was going to cook it.

Ingredients for the marinade
Ingredients for the marinade

     This recipe is courtesy of Steven Raichlen, was shown on BBQ U and can be found in its original format here.Of course I took a few liberties with it. I really don’t know why I can’t follow a recipe to save my life. For starters, I cut the marinade in half as we weren’t feeding 6 people. I guess that’s how it usually starts. We also omitted the lime from the marinade per Kristi’s suggestion since we didn’t want mushy shrimp (citrus cooks seafood). We did not baste the shrimp as it cooked with the garlic cilantro butter (again per Kristi’s suggestion) because melted butter can cause flare ups. And finally, because I’m lazy and didn’t feel like messing with skewers we “nixed” the whole kebab idea and opted to use a grill pan.

Ingredients

(serves 2-3 people)

  •  1 pound shrimp
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2-4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped (for hotter shrimp, leave the seeds in)
  • 1/2 bunch scallions, both white and green parts, trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (2 cloves coarsely chopped, 1 clove minced)
  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • couple of turns of your pepper grinder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • Lime wedges, for serving
Ingredients for marinade pulsed in a food processor
Ingredients for marinade pulsed in a food processor

Directions

1. Rinse the shrimp under cold running water and then drain and blot them dry with paper towels. Peel and devein the shrimp. Toss the shrimp into a large zip-lock bag to marinate.

2. Set aside 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cilantro for the garlic cilantro butter. Place the remaining cilantro, the jalapenos, scallions, chopped garlic, salt, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor and finely chop. With the machine running, add the olive oil  through the feed tube and puree to a bright green paste. Pour this marinade over the shrimp and let them marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes, turning the shrimp several times so they marinate evenly.

3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and the 1 1/2 tablespoons of reserved cilantro and cook until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, but not browned, about 2 minutes. Keep the garlic cilantro butter warm until ready to use.

The butter mixture can be prepared on the stove or on the grill.
The butter mixture can be prepared on the stove or on the grill.

4. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

5. When ready to cook, spray Pam or wipe down your grill basket with oil. Dump the shrimp, marinade and all into the grill pan. Place the grill pan on the hot grate and grill until just cooked through, 1 to 3 minutes per side. When done, the shrimp will turn pinkish white and feel firm to the touch. Transfer the grilled shrimp to a platter or plates, drizzle the garlic cilantro butter sauce over them, and squeeze the lime on top.

Cooking away on the grill
Cooking away on the grill

     Watch your shrimp carefully. They only take a few minutes and are easy to over cook. When they begin to firm up and turn pink, they are done.

Drizzled with garlic cilantor butter and fresh lime juice
Drizzled with garlic cilantro butter and fresh lime juice

Quick,simple and healthy dinner, served up with some grilled chicken Caesar salad (yes, we grilled the Romaine lettuce as well). Just wish I had taken the time to get better pictures, but the Spurs game was starting and you must have your priorities straight.

Sorry for the bad plated up picture. :(
Sorry for the bad plated up picture. 😦

     I really don’t know why I waited as long as I did to make this recipe. Kind of ashamed that it kept getting pushed to the back burner for OVER 6 years. The shrimp was outstanding, herbaceous, salty and with a touch of citrus from the lime. I know some of you out there are hesitant about this recipe due to the jalapenos. It was not hot at all. Seeding and removing the ribs of the jalapenos takes out the majority of the heat, cooking over high heat tends to take out more. In fact, I didn’t get any heat out of this dish at all, which disappointed me a bit. Maybe I got really mild jalapenos? I’ll try again in a week or so when the jalapenos on our plants are ready to pick. Regardless of the heat, I think this recipe is going to become my go to recipe for grilling shrimp. Yeah…it was that good. 🙂

     This just came to me…I wonder how well this shrimp would work on top of a grilled pizza? Hmmm…gears are turning…

Grilled Shrimp Salad

Grilled Shrimp Salad
Grilled Lemon Shrimp Salad

     For some reason, every time I’m cooking shrimp, I think of the movie Forest Gump. Specifically the scene where Bubba says:

“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”

     Am I the only one who does that? Is there something wrong with me? The other thing that comes to mind is that God awful phrase with an Australian accent, “Let’s throw some shrimp on the Barbie.” I try not to let that one creep into my mind, otherwise it’ll be stuck there for a few days. Dang it…now it’s stuck in my head. Oh well, this light and tasty grilled shrimp salad was worth it and it’ll be in my head for a while, too.

     Are you getting sick of the healthy recipes yet? I sure hope not because I have plenty more planned. Eating healthy doesn’t mean bland food and this dish did not disappoint. From the flavors the brine brought to the grilled shrimp to the zesty and tangy light dressing that topped the salad, this recipe packed a ton of flavor, was quick and easy to prepare. Not to mention healthy.

     You may remember our Brined Shrimp from back in January. Why brine the shrimp (or any meat for that matter)? Simple. Brining can improve the flavor and texture of your meat as well as help keep it from drying out when you cook it. And for shrimp, it only takes 20-25 minutes. You’ve got that kind of time right? Perfect for sitting down with a glass of wine or your beverage of choice and relaxing. One more thing before getting started…leave those shells on! They help protect the shrimp from the heat and drying out.

The shrimp on the grill at 400F
The shrimp on the grill at 400F

Ingredients

(makes 4 servings)

  • 1 lb of shrimp
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil (not the liquid kind)
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp Cajun Seasoning (we use Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom)
  • about 6 cups of your favorite salad mix
  • 1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
  • any other vegetables you enjoy in a salad. We used some grape tomatoes, mushrooms, radishes and cucumbers to round ours out.
The shrimp are done and cooling off
The shrimp are done and cooling off

Directions

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, you may opt to clean the shrimp. Using a pair of scissors or a serrated knife, make an incision down the backside of the shrimp, following the intestinal track. Eviscerate shrimp and rinse under cool water leaving shells intact.
  3. Once your water has come to a boil, pour it into a large bowl and add sugar, salt, boil seasonings and 2 cups of ice. Once the mixture has cooled, add shrimp and allow to brine for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Preheat your grill to high (mine was at 400F. Next time I would go 450-500F)
  5. While the shrimp is brining, prepare your salad and salad dressing. For the dressing, mix together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, water and Cajun seasoning in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate dressing until ready to use.
  6. After 25 minutes, drain the brine and rinse the shrimp 2 or 3 times. Dry the shrimp thoroughly and skewer the shrimp. I like to use two skewers as it keeps the shrimp from spinning when you go to flip them.
  7. Rub the shrimp with olive oil and season with Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom or Cajun seasoning.
  8. Place your shrimp on the grill. It should only take a few minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is. Keep an eye on your shrimp as it cooks quickly and is easy to over cook.
  9. Allow shrimp to cool and then peel. In a large bowl, combine shrimp, salad greens and any other vegetables you chose. Add dressing and gently toss to coat.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving*

148 cal, 6 g total fal (1 g sat. fat), 171 mg chol, 310 mg sodium, 5 g carb, 0 g fiber 19 g protein

Exchanges: 2.5 very lean meat, 1.5 vegetables, 0.5 fat

Carb Choices: 0

*I am not a nutritionist or an expert by any means. The nutritional facts came from a recipe I found that used pre-cooked shrimp and did not include the brining steps I added. Those may change some of the data. The type of mayonnaise (we used Duke’s Light Mayonnaise) and Cajun seasoning you choose might also affect the data. Use the nutritional facts as a loose guide.

A refreshing and light grilled shrimp salad
A refreshing and light grilled shrimp salad

     Often times, when we think of the word salad, it brings a negative connotation to mind. Yeah, its healthy and we should eat more of it. But we also think bland and boring. This salad was anything but. The shrimp was plump and bursting with flavor, yet still tasting of the sea. The dressing, while simple, was tangy and refreshing. I love me some meat and potatoes, but I was happy eating this salad. One thing I kept thinking over and over again was that this is going to be a great salad when the oppressive heat of summer is bearing down on us. Light, cool and refreshing.  Perfect for summer time. I’m already looking forward to enjoying this one again and again when the hot months descend upon us.

Brined and Grilled Shrimp

Grilled shrimp that have been brined
Grilled shrimp that have been brined

     A few weeks ago, I caught an old episode of Good Eats entitled Crustacean Nation (look for the video embedded at the end of the post). This episode focused on shrimp cocktail, but what really caught my attention was the brine. We’ve brined chicken and turkey and pork chops, why not shrimp? The idea sat in the back of my mind and I knew that one day I was going to give it a try and see what I thought (but of course we were going to grill our shrimp rather than putting it under a broiler like Alton did).

This has nothing to do with the shrimp, but I thought all the colors of the veggies looked pretty good.
This has nothing to do with the shrimp, but I thought all the colors of the veggies looked pretty good.

     Unlike brining a chicken or turkey, shrimp do not need to brine for long. In fact, 20 -25 minutes are plenty of time for shrimp. With such a quick brining time, you really do not need to plan ahead of time in order to do this. Come home from work, whip up your brine and toss your shrimp in and let them brine while starting your grill or prepping your side dishes.

Veggies tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and a little bit of cajun season go directly on a grill preheated to 500-550F
Veggies tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and a little bit of Cajun season go directly on a grill preheated to 500-550F

     Now why would you want to brine your shrimp before cooking it, you may ask. Brining can improve the flavor and texture of your meat as well as help keep it from drying out when you cook it.

     One more thing before we get started…shells. I’ve always taken the shells off my shrimp before grilling them…or cooking them any other way, unless of course we are doing a boil. Then we leave the shells on. But Alton cooked his with the shells on. He claimed that the shells were both a good protectorant and flavor enhancer. Not only that, when you leave the shells on, it keeps the shrimp from curling up in tight knots. I always figured, if you left the shell on, you wouldn’t be able to season the shrimp, but maybe with the brine? I was willing to give it a shot.

     As usual, I can’t stick to a recipe to save my hide. I was planning of following his method step by step (except for grilling the shrimp instead of boiling it), but as I started to boil the water and get the salt and sugar out, it occurred to me…why not add some Zatarain’s Boil seasoning to the brine? I figured it would add more flavor to the shrimp, give it that shrimp boil flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups of ice
  • 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Zatarain’s Extra Spicy Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil (not the liquid one, the solid one)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 32 shell on 21-25 count shrimp
  • cocktail sauce
Shrimp on the grill at 550+
Shrimp on the grill at 550+

Directions

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
  2. While waiting for the water to boil, you may opt to clean the shrimp. Using a pair of scissors or a serrated knife, make an incision down the backside of the shrimp, following the intestinal track. Eviscerate shrimp and rinse under cool water leaving shells intact.
  3. Once your water has come to a boil, pour it into a large bowl and add sugar, salt, boil seasonings and 2 cups of ice. Once the mixture has cooled, add shrimp and allow to brine for 20-25 minutes.
  4. Preheat your grill to high (mine was at 550F when the veggies came off and when the shrimp went on, I removed the top vent and opened the bottom vent all the way)
  5. After 25 minutes, drain the brine and rinse the shrimp 2 or 3 times. Dry the shrimp thoroughly and skewer the shrimp. I like to use two skewers as it keeps the shrimp from spinning when you go to flip them.
  6. Rub the shrimp with olive oil and season with Old Bay Seasoning
  7. Place your shrimp on the grill. It should take about 2 minutes per side, depending on how hot your grill is. Keep an eye on your shrimp as it cooks quickly and is easy to over cook.
  8. Remove shrimp from grill when done and eat immediately or if you are doing shrimp cocktail like Alton Brown, place in the freezer for 5 minutes to stop the cooking process and then move into the refrigerator until you are ready to eat.
Grilled shrimp served up on a bed of rice pilaf with a side of veggies.
Grilled shrimp served up on a bed of rice pilaf with a side of veggies.

     I’m convinced!! Brining is definitely the way to go. The shrimp were plump and juicy. They had a firm texture. The brining carried the flavors inside the shell and into the shrimp. I’m not real sure adding the Old Bay Seasoning to the outside did anything unless you like licking your fingers (which I admit I did a few times). I might skip that part in the future. From now on, when  we grill shrimp, we are definitely going to brine and leave the shells on.

    And now, if you are interested, here is the episode of Good Eats that inspired this meal.