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Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija
In her friend’s outdoor kitchen, Josefina López Méndez, chef at Chapulín restaurant in Mexico City, showed us how to make tacos gobernador, a modern Mexican classic that combines a sauté of shrimp, fresh tomatoes and chilies with quesillo, a stringy cheese not unlike mozzarella, that’s melted onto the tortillas before assembly. We morphed those tacos into something simpler but equally delicious and, we think, in the same spirit. We sear shrimp, then combine them with sautéed onion, fresh tomatoes and a minced charred habanero chili. Instead of melting a mild, milky cheese onto the tortillas before filling them, we simply garnish the tacos with crumbled cotija, a dryish Mexican cheese that packs lots of salty, savory flavor, along with fresh cilantro. The shrimp filling gets decent but not scorching heat from the habanero chili; if you wish to tame the spiciness, seed the chili after charring, before finely chopping it.
habanero chili, stemmed
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided