We’ve all heard it by now. Reduce cholesterol-rich red meat from our diets and reach instead for more vitamin-packed vegetables and low-fat, protein-filled seafood. But when I say this to my good Latino relatives, lovers of anything and everything sancochado or frito, it inevitably cues a certain amount eye-rolling. To so many in our community, the idea of choosing healthier meals is, for some reason, akin to saying “Let’s all eat grass!” The assumption is it’s flavorless, bland and mushy.
But today’s recipe is proof a healthier alternative can be as delicious a choice as anything else. These are Baja style tacos made with shrimp, packed not only with omega-3 fatty acids, which are powerful antioxidants, but also iodine, which helps maintain a properly functioning thyroid, and carotenoids, which is what makes the shrimp pink and has the power to protect your skin from aging. The shrimp are topped with pico de gallo and shredded cabbage, all raw which is the best way to preserve any vegetable’s complete nutritional value and to add great crunch and texture.
I used flour tortillas in this recipe because typically that’s how these tacos are served, but if you really want to amp up your diet go for whole wheat ones instead. Also, I used a tiny bit of Mexican crema blended with chipotle chiles as a saucy topper since everything else was already so healthy and low-fat. But if you want to forego even that small amount of fat, blend the chile with low-fat plain yogurt instead.
1 large tomato, finely diced
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño, cored, seeded, finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
4 T olive oil, separated
1/2 cup Mexican crema (or creme fraiche, or low-fat plain yogurt)
2 T low-fat milk
2 T chipotle peppers in adobo
2 T low-fat milk
1 cup shredded green cabbage
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1b large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
Salt & pepper
6 to 8 taco-sized flour tortillas (or whole wheat tortillas)
1. Start by preparing the pico de gallo. Combine the tomato, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate covered while you prepare the rest of the dish.
2. In a blender or small food processor, combine the crema, milk and chipotle and puree until smooth. If it is too thick, add a little more milk or water. Put it in a squeeze bottle and refrigerate. (You’ll have extra sauce when you’re done and you can save for later use.)
3. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, stirring until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and let reduce by half. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until they turn pink and start to curl, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside, keeping warm.
4. On a comal or non-stick pan, heat the tortillas until warm.
5. To assemble the tacos, place 4 to 5 shrimp on each tortilla. Top with pico de gallo, shredded cabbage and a few squirts of spiced crema. Makes 6 to 8 tacos.