The first shrimp tacos Katherine and I ate after we landed in La Paz, Baja Mexico were out of this small, outdoor restaurant across the street from the Sea of Cortez. The sun was minutes from setting, and the street was coming alive with vendors and families and music. Sitting on a pair of red plastic chairs, nursing two icy Dos Equis beers, the shrimp tacos arrived steaming hot, drenched in cheese and a piquant salsa. Paper napkins would offer no help. But we ordered another round.
I made my version of this taco repeatedly over the years and with great joy for our boys. It's my pleasure to share it with you, now.
The secret to this taco is the layer of Queso Blanco in between two tortillas. It serves a dual purpose of adding cheesy goodness to the dish but also acting as a container for the juices coming from the sauteed shrimp and corn salsa.
The centerpiece of the shrimp tacos is, of course, the shrimp. Shrimp are so finicky and are easily overcooked, so you need to be very judicious on how long you leave them over the heat. It's easier to keep cooking the shrimp until they are just barely cooked, then trying to salvage tightly curled, chewy shrimp that feel like our kids' day-old pile of Playdoh.
However, getting the right shrimp from the start is imperative. We drafted a quick primer on selecting the best shrimp for any dish in our Bouillabaisse recipe. Take a quick look before you head to the market.
Serve the shrimp tacos quickly to make sure your guests get the joy of pulling apart the melty Queso Blanco.
And right before you take the first enormous bite, restrain yourself for a second and squeeze a bit of fresh lime juice first. You can thank me later.
Falls in love a bold Mexican beer or a Frozen Strawberry Margarita
Stirs memories of the melding of desert and sea; long kayak rides on the Sea of Cortez
In the spice chest, you'll find cilantro and garlic
Suggestions and Alternatives:
- If you can't easily get corn tortillas, flour tortillas will do just fine.
- Queso Blanco can be a bit challenging to get in certain supermarkets, so feel free to use mozzarella.
- For an added bit of sweetness, fold some diced mango into your corn salsa.
- Get the full Corn Salsa recipe here.
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Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 pounds gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons grape seed oil
- 1 pound Queso Blanco
- 16 single corn tortillas
- 2 cups corn salsa
- 2 whole limes, wedge
- Using a medium size saute pan on medium heat melt butter. (about 1 minute).
- Add peeled and deveined Gulf shrimp. Saute for 2 minutes.
- After 2 minutes add cilantro, salt, crushed garlic cloves, and grape seed oil.
- Saute for three minutes.
- Remove shrimp from the pan and set aside.
- In a small size pot on medium heat, add fresh Queso Blanco.
- Melt Queso blanco and remove from heat.
- Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Using a large sheet tray add 16 corn tortillas. Bake for 2 minutes.
- While Queso is still warm, use a fork to spread Queso evenly on eight tortillas. Place the other four on top immediately. (Like a Quesadilla).
- Divide shrimp evenly on each taco and add corn salsa.
- Gently fold each taco in half.