BBQ Shrimp Tacos. My last recipe created by my trip to San Diego is inspired by my favorite person there, Ms. Natasha. I met Natasha as an adventure seeking 20 something in New Orleans. To me, Natasha was everything great about living in New Orleans at the time. A feisty bartender with a twinkle in her eyes, a lust for enjoying life and a welcoming heart. When you walked in her bar there she was, always dressed in a great dress with a flower in her long beautiful hair that was braided and pinned up like a crown on her head.
There are many different types of bartenders, I was the sharp tongued and quick moving Mama type. Most of my regulars came because they knew they could always get a drink and if they needed some stern but loving advice, I mommed everybody. Making sure you got enough to eat, wore a coat, got home okay and if I thought you were making bad decisions I was most definitely going to let you know. Natasha is the type of bartender that the minute you walked in you felt welcome. She is always happy to see you and was going to make damn sure you have a good time. Sitting at Natasha's bar is like reuniting with your closest friends, who you know you can be exactly who you are, not having to worry about what you say or do for fear of judgment or upsetting someone. It feels like a prize when she loves you because you know she will love you with all her heart.
Now that being said she definitely didn't tolerate assholes. The cardinal rule of her bar is if you are causing her patrons to be upset or showing lack of respect you are not welcome. One of my favorite moments with Tash was during the much dreaded Mardi Gras season. You see Mardi Gras is not one day, it is weeks of long shifts filled with drunk tourists and a whole lot of extra crazy to deal with in general. Most bartenders are exhausted and living in "I just have to survive this" fog. After a long shift, I started stocking beer in preparation to put my tired ass to bed (who am I kidding I was in my early twenties, I was going out) when a gentleman in what was left of his costume walked in. I knew immediately by his costume and accent he was from Acadiana. He bellied up to the bar and ordered a Jack and Coke and a Midori Sour. As Natasha goes to make his drinks he started cutting up and acting like one of those "Look I'm a big man because I can treat other people like crap buffoons". She put the drinks on the bar right next to me, where I am elbow deep in a beer cooler. He said something snarky and Natasha responds accordingly. Then I heard him utter the words “F*ing cowan.” Right away my head shot up and he can tell instantly he knows I know what that means and regrets his choice of words. Natasha looks from him to me and it's sinking in that something isn't right. She stared me straight in the eye demanding to know what he had said (y’all! She can be scary when she needs to be.) As I looked into his eyes that are silently begging me to not divulge his mistake I turn and tell her. “Well, cowan is a snapping turtle or also the term for female parts in Cajun”. "So he called me the C word,” Natasha asked? “Yes, in a way he did and I know his Momma taught him better than that!” Well her head whipped back to look at him. (Oh the look on that smug guys face, he knew he had gone too far and his attempt to show off to his boys had horribly back fired.) She leaned over picked up one of his drinks and throws it on him and tells him to get the hell out. After he exited the building she looks down and says “Damn it" I ask "What?" She answers "I threw the Jack and Coke - I could have drunk that one." Here are the life lessons from this story A. Don’t assume you're the only Cajun in the building. B. New Orleans bartenders don’t suffer any fools and C. The Midori Sour is not a respectable drink if a bartender won’t drink it even if it’s free. You should be drinking something else.
When I decided to come up with a recipe to represent this old and dear friend I knew it had to combine New Orleans and San Diego, just like the women that inspired me. Well, what's more, New Orleans than BBQ shrimp? I knew it had to be good on a taco, it just had to be. Now California has much lighter fare than we do in the South so I needed something that complimented but lightened up. Then it hit me I love brussels sprouts and I especially love dipping them in whatever sauce I have. Ping! Fresh brussels sprouts shredded and tossed with my jalapeno sauce. Hopefully, it will be a hit at your house as much as it was with mine.
This recipe comes together pretty quickly. First, I do the brussel sprout slaw. Either you shred your sprouts or did you know they sell them pre-shredded now? I jumped on that. Put them in a bowl and add two tablespoons of jalapeno sauce (used in our previous post on fish tacos) and toss. Put this mix in the fridge till your ready.
There are many different ways to make BBQ shrimp. Later I will do my version that I love for shrimp and grits but for the tacos, I went with a simple version that I think really works the best as a taco filling.
First, I heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet. Once heated I add my shrimp and cook till they are barely pink. Then I remove the shrimp and set them aside. In the same skillet, I add Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat. Let this cook just till the garlic is fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Now I like mine tangy so I only add 1 & 1/2 sticks, depending on your tastes some people add as much 3 sticks. Just keep tasting until you are happy. Remember the more butter the more sauce you have. Add your shrimp back in and cook till they are heated through and the sauce sticks to the shrimp. Remove skillet from heat.
*It will be very saucy. Don't worry about that. I'm sure you can find something to do with that extra sauce.
*Be warned this is not neat taco eating this is juices down your arm tacos.
In some warmed up, flour tortillas place shrimp and top with your brussel sprout slaw. If you want to go crazy add some more sauce to the top.
Now get some napkins (lots of napkins - I wouldn't wear a white shirt) and dive in.
Hope you enjoy this fusion of San Diego and New Orleans.
Brussel Sprout Slaw w/ Jalapeno Sauce
6 large jalapeños
1/4 large onion
3-4 roasted garlic cloves
1/2-3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
3-4 cups shredded Brussell Sprouts
In a small pot bring enough water to cover the jalapenos and onion to a boil. Simmer the jalapeños and onions for about 15-20 minutes, until they are fork tender. Once done strain the jalapeños and onions. Reserve some of the water just in case you need to thin the sauce later. Once cool enough remove stems from the jalapeños.
Using a blender or food processor combine the oil, garlic, jalapenos, onion, and salt.
Blend until creamy. It should look frothy and pale green.
Transfer to a bowl or squeeze bottle to chill. It will be really spicy when warm and mellow as it cools.
Please note you can replace the jalapeños with other peppers or combine different peppers.You can go milder or hotter depending on your taste.
Add 1-2 tablespoons of sauce to 10-12 ounces of shaved Brussel sprouts and mix well.
1 1/2 to 2lbs peeled medium sized shrimp
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
1 Tablespoon minced garlic (let's be honest I put in at least 2, but I am a garlic addict)
11/2-3 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed
1. Heat up about a tablespoon of oil in a heavy skillet. Once heated I add my shrimp and cook till they are barely pink. Once done I remove the shrimp and set them aside.
2. In the same skillet, I add Worcestershire, lemon juice, black peppers, Creole seasoning, and garlic and cook over moderately high heat. Let this cook just till the garlic is fragrant about 1-2 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in butter, a few cubes at a time, stirring constantly and adding more only when butter is melted. Now I like mine tangy so I only add 1 & 1/2 sticks, depending on your tastes some people add as much 3 sticks. just keep tasting till you are happy.(Just remember the more butter the more sauce you have.
4. Add your shrimp back in and cook just till they are heated through and the sauce sticks to the shrimp.
5. Remove skillet from heat.
6. Spoon shrimp on a warmed tortilla and top with Brussel sprout slaw and serve.
*Mais this is messy so get some napkins
*If you add more butter you can easily serve this with pasta or french bread.
The trip that inspired the recipes.As always we are laughing too hard to take a good picture and besides, we look fuzzy and timeless.