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These fast and flavorful shrimp tacos are topped with a tangy mango salsa, fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of cotija cheese. Perfect for taco Tuesday (or Wednesday… or Thursday…)
Our favorite weeknight dinners are fast, fresh, and flavorful, and these quick & easy shrimp tacos check all the boxes. The chipotle-spiced shrimp cook in mere minutes, and the tangy mango salsa on top is like a little bit of sunshine in every bite.
These shrimp tacos make for a super quick weeknight meal, easily prepared in less than 30 minutes.
It’s a dish we’ve made half a dozen times in the past few months, we’ve taken to keeping a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer for this very reason. Even though it’s not terribly original (mango salsa recipes are a dime a dozen and all of them look pretty darn similar, shrimp tacos too for that matter), we still figured it was a recipe one worth sharing.
The recipe is quite similar to our Dragonfruit Shrimp Tacos, which is a lovely recipe but one that people don’t make very often, I’m guessing because the pink tortillas just don’t seem approachable or something. That and I think dragonfruit is probably a bit hard to track down sometimes, whereas mango is much more widely available.
This version doesn’t have the avocado crema, since the mango itself is much more flavorful than dragonfruit so it holds its own quite well. We also added some crumbled cotija cheese and fresh micro cilantro on top to finish it off. With a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice, the result is an ultra flavorful taco that’ll have your tastebuds clamoring for more.
If your shrimp are on the small side you can leave them whole. For larger shrimp I recommend cutting them up into bite-sized pieces after cooking to make the tacos easier to eat and enjoy.
If using frozen shrimp, thaw them first either overnight in the fridge, or you can submerge them in cold water for about 10 to 20 minutes. Drain, and pat dry before cooking (too much excess water and they won’t brown).
The shrimp are seasoned with chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder works fine too, although it can sometimes pack more punch than chipotle, so you may want to reduce the amount), garlic, cumin and oregano.
I think this same recipe would work well with a flaky white fish too, use the same spice mix for seasoning, and pan-sear in a skillet for a few minutes per side (more if your fish is particularly thick). Then flake into pieces and spoon onto warm tortillas.
This simple mango salsa quite versatile, flexible enough you can adapt it to fit your personal tastes. Our version here is made with mango, cherry tomatoes, red onion, jalapeño, cilantro and lime.
Make it your own:
- Mix up the peppers, replacing the jalapeño with serrano or habañero peppers for more heat.
- Add diced red or orange bell pepper for a sweet flavor and crunch.
- Use pineapple in place of mango.
- Add some fresh garlic.
- Leave out the tomatoes if you’d like, the salsa is just as good though not quite as colorful.
- Use shallot or white onion in place of the red.
- Add a pinch of chili powder to up the heat and add a hint of smokiness.
- Add cucumber or even diced avocado.
Heating Corn Tortillas
Properly heating corn tortillas is the difference between one that is soft and pliable and a tortilla that splits open as soon as you pick up your taco. Corn tortillas behave quite differently than flour tortillas in this regard.
The best way to heat corn tortillas is to dip them briefly in water and then warm in a skillet or flat griddle pan. I know dipping the whole thing in water sounds really strange, but trust me, it works. The water turns to steam which softens the tortilla without compromising its strength.
- Preheat a nonstick skillet or flat griddle over medium heat. The skillet should be dry; you do not need any oil.
- Fill a wide shallow bowl with cool water.
- Quickly dip a tortilla in a bowl of cold water, coating both sides. Lay in the skillet, and shimmy it around a little bit in the first few seconds so it doesn’t stick. Depending on the size of your pan you can certainly cook a few at once.
- Heat for 30 to 60 seconds, then flip and heat the other side for 30 to 60 more or until the water is evaporated and tortilla is soft and pliable. Take care not to cook them too long or the tortillas will be crispy rather than soft (we’re not making tostadas here).
- Transfer to a plate (ok to stack them) and cover with a clean tea towel, this will hold in the steam and keep them warm and pliable while you warm the rest of the tortillas. You can also put the plate in a low oven to keep them warm longer.
Good tortillas definitely make a difference in a simple recipe like this one (Trader Joe’s, I love you but your tortillas leave something to be desired).
If you have a Mexican grocery near you, that’s a great place to start (and the tortillas there will be leaps and bounds better than what you can find in a grocery store). We stumbled across a local shop here in Nashville that sells incredible corn tortillas made from organic heirloom corn. If you’re in Nashville, definitely check out the Maiz de la Vida Tortilla Shop on Clarksville Pike (and grab some quesobirra tacos while you’re there… *drool*)
You can also make homemade corn tortillas, which are surprisingly easy and so much better than the pale, flavorless ones you’ll find in the store.
Quick Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
These fast and flavorful shrimp tacos are topped with a bright mango salsa, fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of cotija cheese.
For Mango Salsa:
- 1 mango, peeled and cut into cubes (about 2 cups cubed)
- 4 oz / 113 g cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1-2 jalapeños, seeded, deveined and finely minced (about 2 tablespoons minced)
- ¼ medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup chopped)
- ¼ cup packed fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon lime zest, from 1 lime (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, from 1 lime
- salt, to taste
- 1 pound / 453 g medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- vegetable oil, for cooking
- 10 corn tortillas
- chopped fresh cilantro or micro cilantro, for topping
- cotija cheese, crumbled
- lime wedges, for serving
For mango salsa, combine mango, tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, cilantro and lime zest in a medium bowl. Add lime juice and salt and toss to coat. Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Be sure all your shrimp are deveined and peeled, tails removed. Thaw completely if frozen. Lay on a paper-towel lined plate and pat dry.
In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper until evenly mixed. Sprinkle generously over shrimp, coating both sides evenly with a thick layer of spice mixture.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to hot skillet, and let oil preheat until shimmering.
Add shrimp, arranging in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
Cook for about 2 minutes per side (4 minutes total) or until shrimp are opaque and sides are browned. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces (if your shrimp are on the small side you can leave them whole).
Meanwhile, to warm tortillas, preheat a nonstick skillet or flat griddle over medium heat. Quickly dip a tortilla in a bowl of cold water, then place on skillet. Depending on the size of your pan you can cook a few at once. Heat for 30 to 60 seconds, then flip and heat the other side for 30 to 60 more or until the water is evaporated and tortilla is soft and pliable. Transfer to a plate and cover with a clean tea towel while you warm the rest of the tortillas.
Arrange warm tortillas on serving plates. Top with shrimp and a generous scoop of mango salsa. Optionally top with more chopped cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lime if desired.
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