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Seared Shrimp Tacos with Tomatoes and Cotija

4 to 6 Servings

45 minutes

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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.

4 to 6



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.

45 minutes


  • 1

    habanero chili, stemmed

  • 2

    tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided


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Jennifer B.
October 15, 2022
Beautiful melding of flavors and textures.
I don't always love Mexican cooking or seafood, but this would convert anyone. The flavors and textures were outstanding. I added the diy salsa Macha and it was fabulous.