Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija

Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija

Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija

Free

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.

Tip

Don’t forget to pat the shrimp dry before searing. Removing surface moisture helps prevent steaming and ensures good, flavorful browning. Also, don’t brown the shrimp on both sides—the point is for them to be only parcooked after searing. They will fully cook—to a plump, tender finish—when returned to the pan with the tomatoes.

1 habanero chili, stemmed
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
1 1/2 pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, patted dry
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced
3 ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
3 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Ingredients
  • 1

    habanero chili, stemmed

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, patted dry

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ½

    medium white onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

  • 1

    tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve

  • 3

    ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 12

    (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Salsas

Recipe

Salsa Macha

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high until water flicked onto the surface immediately sizzles and evaporates. Add the chili and cook, turning every 1 to 2 minutes, until well charred on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the chili to a cutting board.
  2. 02
    In the same skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the shrimp in an even layer and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook without stirring until the bottoms of the shrimp are browned, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and set aside; reserve the skillet. Finely chop the chili.
  3. 03
    In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and any accumulated juices, the tomatoes and chili; cook, stirring, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Off heat, stir in the lime juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. 04
    To serve, put the cotija, cilantro and lime wedges into small bowls. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a serving dish, then serve with the tortillas and garnishes for making tacos.
Tip: Don’t forget to pat the shrimp dry before searing. Removing surface moisture helps prevent steaming and ensures good, flavorful browning. Also, don’t brown the shrimp on both sides—the point is for them to be only parcooked after searing. They will fully cook—to a plump, tender finish—when returned to the pan with the tomatoes.
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Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija

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4 to 6

Servings

Tip

Don’t forget to pat the shrimp dry before searing. Removing surface moisture helps prevent steaming and ensures good, flavorful browning. Also, don’t brown the shrimp on both sides—the point is for them to be only parcooked after searing. They will fully cook—to a plump, tender finish—when returned to the pan with the tomatoes.

Ingredients
  • 1

    habanero chili, stemmed

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

  • pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, patted dry

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • ½

    medium white onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped

  • 1

    tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve

  • 3

    ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)

  • ½

    cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 12

    (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

Salsas

Recipe

Salsa Macha

Step 1 of 4

Cook The Chili

1
habanero chili, stemmed

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high until water flicked onto the surface immediately sizzles and evaporates.


Add the chili and cook, turning every 1 to 2 minutes, until well charred on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the chili to a cutting board.

Step 2 of 4

Cook The Shrimp

1
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (tails removed) and deveined, patted dry
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.


Add the shrimp in an even layer and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook without stirring until the bottoms of the shrimp are browned, 5 to 6 minutes.


Transfer to a large plate and set aside; reserve the skillet. Finely chop the chili.

Step 3 of 4

Stir In Remaining Ingredients

1
tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
½
medium white onion, thinly sliced
3
ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
1
tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper

In the same skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering.


Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and any accumulated juices, the tomatoes and chili; cook, stirring, until the shrimp are opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes.


Off heat, stir in the lime juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.

Step 4 of 4

Serve

3
ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (¾ cup)
½
cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges

To serve, put the cotija, cilantro and lime wedges into small bowls. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a serving dish, then serve with the tortillas and garnishes for making tacos.

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