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Stolen Inspiration: Chipotle Poached Shrimp Tacos

I find that inspiration for new dishes comes from a multitude of sources: childhood memories, fantastic restaurant meals, conversation with friends, bizarre dreams (yes, it’s true – I do dream about cooking from time to time), etc. But I think the most often used source of inspiration comes from the plethora of cooking and travel shows with which I seem to fill my television-viewing time.

The local PBS station has added an additional HD channel to its line-up called Create. It’s full of familiar PBS programs that show you how to build, garden, paint, sew, travel, and cook. The travel hosts are these intrepid globe trekkers hopping from country to country, showing us not only the history, art, and architecture of each place, but also the unique cuisine of the region (always makes me alternate from cringing to salivating as I see what they eat). One recent afternoon, sandwiched between trips to London and Paris, was a repeat of America’s Test Kitchen, which was tackling Mexican food. Don and I both stopped in our tracks as we watched them work their magic on chicken tacos. They came up with a preparation that I knew I needed to steal pay homage to in a recipe.

OK, I freely admit that I stole the cooking method they presented – but the flavor profile and ingredients are my own. The only ingredient common to both recipes is chipotle in adobo. I’m telling you, this is like no flavor you’ve ever had in a taco. The cooking method poaching the protein in citrus juice, then reduce the juice to create a great sauce to spoon over the tacos. (If tacos aren’t your thing, this would make a great addition to a seasoned rice dish as well.)

The added beauty is that all of the ingredients are staples in my fridge. It’s quick and simple – two adjectives that I can’t apply to many of the recipes I come up with. I chose to use lime juice for my shrimp because it’s the first thing I think of when it comes to Mexican food. The only trick is removing the shrimp before they are cooked all the way through. Since you are adding them back to the reduced sauce at the last minute, you want to make sure the final dish isn’t overcooked (nothing worse than rubbery shrimp, is there?)
I know there are all sorts of theories about not serving dairy products with seafood, so I left it off for the glamour shots, but I certainly loaded the jack cheese and sour cream onto my taco before I ate it.

I also had some fresh ears of corn in the fridge that needed a reason to be cooked. I always think lime pairs well with corn, so I decided to roast the corn along with some scallions and created a simple Lime Corn Salad to go with the shrimp tacos.

The chipotle gives a smoky punch to the shrimp. The natural sweetness that comes out of roasting corn complemented the tacos brilliantly. (I have to say, being a Hoosier boy, there’s nothing like fresh corn you pick up at an Indiana roadside stand, but I am certainly developing a fondness for fresh Florida corn as well. I think it’s a little sweeter, but Indiana corn has more depth of flavor). And with the obvious lime flavor running through the meal, an ice-cold Corona is the only thing that made sense. Just like the right wine selection, it enhanced the flavors and pulled the meal together.

I made enough for leftovers – and let me tell you, both dishes were even better after they’d had a chance to sit overnight. (I always think it’s strange how some leftovers can taste even better than the fresh dish.)

Regardless of where the inspiration came from, I’m just glad that this new dish is around. Don is already hitting me up to make it again. That’s always a good sign.

Chipotle Poached Shrimp Tacos


A quick and simple twist to seafood tacos that makes it perfect for a weeknight meal.

  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper (minced (with about 1 T of adobo sauce))
  • ¼ C chopped parsley (divided)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 lb. fresh shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 flour tortillas
  • ½ C Shredded cabbage
  • ½ C sour cream (if desired)
  • ½ C shredded Monterey Jack cheese (is desired)
  1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
  2. Add butter, garlic, chipotle and adobo. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add lime juice and 3 T chopped parsley. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Add shrimp, cover, and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, until shrimp are opaque, but not quite cooked through.
  5. Remove shrimp and reserve.
  6. Reduce remaining liquid by two-thirds, until thick.
  7. Turn off the heat.
  8. Return shrimp to pan and add remaining 1 T of chopped parsley.
  9. Stir until shrimp are coated with sauce.
  10. Salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Warm flour tortillas and add ¼ of shrimp mixture to each tortilla and top with shredded cabbage.
  12. Add sour cream and cheese, if desired.

this post is reblogged from my earlier site, Inexpensive Eating.