Surf inspired tropical tacos

15 Sep

I am viciously sore today. My alarm clock blared at 6:30, even before the sun could rear its head and yell in my face. Reaching for the snooze button had my weak arm muscles screeching. I have a bruise on my right breast that looks like a freshly delivered black eye, red, purple and angry. My face was hot and enormously sensitive to the touch. This is what a school morning after surfing for the first time is like.

The rental guy picked out a surfboard that towered a good four feet over me; apparently the bigger the board, the easier to surf with. My arm felt incredibly stubby as I tried to tuck the behemoth under it. Walking three feet with it was hard enough, and seeing me struggle, the guy chuckled and mumbled, “not even at the water.”

The wetsuit clung to the body like a too-small latex glove and left nothing to the imagination. My food loving curves were quite visible, and I patted my tummy sympathetically as it tried to suck itself in. I was so embarrassed. My surfing companion said that if I didn’t like the experience, it would be the one time I surfed, that it was an experience that need not be repeated if so desired. I struggled with even his shorter board and waddled several blocks to the beach.

It was an unusually gorgeous day in Pacifica, which was unfortunate for my face, hands and feet because I had promptly forgotten to coat them with sunblock during the hurried packing and the stressful journey west. I strapped a velcro anklet on, which made sure that board and I would never be more than a few feet apart. After a quick tutorial, I was in the water, pushing the board forward, and after some time wiggling my way onto it. With no food in my stomach, my arms became very tired very quickly as much of my day consisted of laying on the board and paddling. I fell off constantly, got knocked over by waves frequently, and sat on the board a few times, rode waves on my stomach a few more times, and got very close to getting on my knees once. I had a group of twelve-year olds snicker at me as there was quite a bit of audible struggling on my part to get back on my board every time the ocean decided it would be cute or funny to see me fly off, or “wipe out” as the language goes. My arms were too weak and shaky to support me to a full stand up position, but despite all of it, I was still pleased with my limited progress. I had the board crash into my face twice, and I swear that a watery fist rose out of a wave and punched me in the cheek. And yet nearly the whole time I was in the water, I was laughing and flailing happily; it was the best fun I had in so very long.

After hours of “surfing” we were both starved and trekked out south along the coast in search of a taqueria long ago once visited by my surfing companion. A half hour after departure, we were in Pescadero and sitting in a shabby Mexican place, waiting hungrily for our tacos. Although not the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, they sat in my stomach contently and served my appetite well. And who can complain about bottomless tortilla chips and pico de gallo?

The trip had me hungry for more tacos. So today, I decided to create a taco loosely based on Pescadero’s taco and my favorite EVER taco, which will be most definitely revisited in a future post. This is what is called a tropical taco– panko-crusted shrimp topped with a “tropical” pico de gallo, avocado, a sprinkle of cheese and a squeeze of spicy lime juice. My roommate calls them my specialty.

Tropical Taco Take 1

You’ll need:

24 medium shrimp, cleaned, deveined and uncooked
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons oil
1-2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
vegetable oil

Tropical salsa
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 white peach, chopped
3/4 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
half of a red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of 1-2 limes
1 teaspoon sugar

12 medium yellow corn tortillas
2 avocados, sliced
your choice of shredded or crumbled cheese (cotija is great)
a few slices of lime
chili powder
1-2 serrano chiles, sliced at an angle

Set up the marinade in a medium bowl by mixing the ginger, garlic, brown sugar, oil and red pepper flakes. Add the shrimp and leave for 20 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up all of your salsa ingredients and mix them, adding more lime juice, salt and pepper by taste. Leave the salsa so the flavors can meld for the rest of the marinade time.

Pour the breadcrumbs into a wide bowl or deep plate. Put a saute pan on a burner at medium heat and add a good amount of oil, since you will be pan-frying, a little less than a fourth of the way up the pan. Pour the marinade out, leaving the shrimp. Dip each shrimp into the beaten egg, then move them to the panko to be coated. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp in batches. Flip when the panko on the fry side down is golden. This takes only a minute or two on each side. Move the cooked shrimp to a plate with some paper towels. Repeat for the rest.

Microwave the tortillas six at a time in a ziplock bag for 40 seconds. Divide them into six stacks of two tortillas. Add four shrimp to each stack. Spoon a little more than one tablespoon of the salsa onto each. Add a fourth of an avocado on top of that, then sprinkle with your choice of cheese. Take your lime slices and dip the edges into the chili powder and serve these on the side of the plate as well as the serrano chiles.

Squeeze the chili powerded lime wedges onto your tacos. Garnish with serranos, and enjoy!

Sorry for the shitty picture… we were pretty impatient and starved.


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