Thursday, April 1, 2010

Amor y Tacos

Think you know what a taco is? Think again. AMOR Y TACOS (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; May 2010; $18.95 US / $24.59 CAN; ISBN: 978-1-58479-824-8) delivers a deliciously new way to “do” Mexican—not just tacos but also antojitos (the “little bites” that are Mexico’s variation on tapas), salsas, tequila- and mezcal-based cocktails, and the amazingly thirst-quenching fruit drinks called aguas frescas.

Taking her cue from the taqueros who vend fresh, inventive, lovingly prepared food from roadside stalls in Baja and street-side trucks in Tijuana, author Deborah Schneider shakes up and recombines traditional Mexican flavors in ways that will dazzle your taste buds. Her inspired, quick, easy-to-make dishes include Garlic Shrimp Tacos with Poblano Chiles, Deep-Fried Fish Tacos with Spicy Coleslaw, Lemon-Garlic Chicken Tacos with Mezcal, a vegetarian taco with queso fresco (fresh cheese), and even a taco stuffed with shredded beef that’s been simmered in Coca-Cola.

Deborah Schneider is a chef and author of the award-winning Baja! Cooking on the Edge (Rodale) and Cooking with the Seasons (STC), nominated for a 2009 James Beard Award. She is the executive chef and partner in SOL Cocina in Newport Beach, California. Schneider lives with her family in San Diego.

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas and Antojitos
By Deborah Schneider / Photographs by Sara Remington
Stewart, Tabori & Chang / May 2010
$18.95 US / $24.95 CAN; ISBN: 978-1-58479-824-8
15 color photographs / 55 recipes / Hardcover

Shrimp Taco Dorado

Makes 12 substantial tacos, enough for 6 hungry people. The dorado taco is a supertaco—a new trend in which the basic taco is elaborated upon by adding more salsas, cheese, and garnishes; adding layers; toasting and frying; and generally pushing the taco to its limit. (See also the Taco Vampiro, page 107.) A good dorado is gooey, substantial, and filling—a corn tortilla fried on the griddle with a little butter or oil until golden and half crisped, then stuffed with cheese and any number of fillings and sauces.

This taco, a favorite of mine, tops melted cheese with garlicky shrimp, guacamole, and chipotle salsa, then finishes with a spoonful of sweet-hot mango habanero salsa and fresh cilantro sprigs. It all comes together quickly, so make sure everything is ready to serve before you start cooking the shrimp.

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons butter or olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled, tails removed, and cut in half if large
1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotles in adobo
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
Large corn tortillas
11⁄2 cups grated Jack cheese
Chipotle salsa (page 138)
Guacamole (page 77)
Mango habanero salsa (page 136)
Cilantro sprigs

1. In an 8-inch sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter or oil over medium heat.
When it is heated, but not brown, add the garlic and shrimp, and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink. Stir in the chipotles and salt and remove from the heat.

2. Preheat a heavy pan or griddle over medium heat and brush it lightly with some of the remaining butter or olive oil. Set a corn tortilla on the griddle and scatter 2 tablespoons of shredded Jack cheese evenly over the tortilla. Set 3 or 4 shrimp on one side of the tortilla. When the cheese starts to melt, fold the tortilla in half over the shrimp, and continue to cook on both sides until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly crisped and golden brown.

3. Open the taco. Dollop 1 teaspoon of chipotle salsa on top of the shrimp and follow with a tablespoon each of guacamole and mango habanero salsa. Tuck a couple of cilantro sprigs into the opening and serve right away.

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