Fried fish tacos are a favorite seafood dish in our house, especially when cod is on sale at my local grocery.
Every once in a while, though, I load my flour or corn tortillas with fried shrimp instead. It’s just as flavorful as fish, but somehow feels more festive. It’s easy to prepare and cooks up even faster than fish.
Sometimes I simply toss the shrimp in a little flour to make it crunchy, but I also love a good beer batter. This recipe uses half all-purpose and half rice flours for a light and crispy batter. I used a white winter lager because that’s what was in my fridge, but have also made it with Irish red ale. Just be careful to add the beer slowly and mix as you go, so the batter is free of lumps and has the consistency of a thick pancake batter.
Shredded cabbage and sliced radish add to the tacos’ crunch. I tend to follow a “more is better” philosophy here, so I add a lot of tangy lime crema and salsa verde. You also could pump up the flavor with more avocado or a heavy sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
That’s the great thing about tacos: You can customize each and every bite.
Shrimp tempura tacos
For the shrimp:
1½ cups rice flour, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 (12-ounce) bottle lager-style beer, cold
Vegetable oil, for frying
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
For the lime crema:
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
Juice from 1 lime (about 3 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
To assemble the tacos:
6 flour tortillas, warmed, for serving
¼ head green or red cabbage, or a mix, shredded
4 radishes, thinly sliced into rounds
Handful of chopped cilantro
1 avocado, peeled and cubed
Homemade or jarred salsa verde, for serving
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup of rice flour with the all-purpose flour and baking powder.
Pour about half of the bottle of beer into the bowl and whisk gently. If batter is too thick, add a little more beer. (It should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter.) Be careful not to overwork the batter; a few lumps are OK. Place batter in fridge until ready to use.
Prepare crema by mixing sour cream, mayonnaise, lime juice and sugar in a small bowl. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and black pepper; set aside.
Pour 2 inches of oil into a large skillet or a Dutch oven and heat until it reaches 350 degrees.
Line a plate with paper towels and sprinkle the remaining ½ cup rice flour on a separate plate. Season shrimp all over with salt.
Remove tempura batter from fridge. Dredge the salted shrimp in rice flour and then dip the pieces into the batter, one by one.
Carefully add each piece of shrimp to the hot oil. Work them in small batches to avoid crowding the pan. Fry until the shrimp is golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the plate with paper towels and season immediately with more salt.
To assemble the tacos: Lay warm tortillas on serving plates. Place 1 tablespoon lime crema on each tortilla and spread using the back of a spoon. Add a small mound of cabbage, some radish slices and chopped cilantro. Place a couple of fried shrimp on top, followed by some diced avocado and a drizzle of salsa verde. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos, and serve the rest on the side.
Makes 6 generous tacos.
— Adapted from “Tacos: Recipes and Provocations” by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman (Clarkson Potter; October 2015)