Baja Shrimp Tacos

School vacations give me serious time to think about anything OTHER than school.  I did some serious soul searching recently recently when I went to the VERY seriously delicious Cala restaurant on Fell Street in SF with a group of friends.  I’ve been wanting to eat there for the longest time  — and once there, I couldn’t decide what to order! We debated the merits of every menu item.  Ruthie claims carne asada,  Sarah is a Jimboy’s aficionado, and Janie will only do beer battered fish.  I’m a carnitas girl from WAYYYYY back, and that’s usually my measure of greatness in a restaurant — but . . . it IS a seafood restaurant, and I had to have at least one seafood taco — so, I went with shrimp — my NEW measure of greatness.  If you haven’t been to Cala — don’t wait for others — just go.  I’m planning my second trip for next week!  Here’s my version of the a super delicious shrimp taco.

Ingredients

For the pickled onion and jalapeno:

½ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1.5 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1 red onion, sliced thinly
5 jalapenos, de-seeded and sliced thinly

For the cabbage:

4 cups sliced green cabbage
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
squeeze of lime

For the avocado sauce:

1 avocado
juice of half a lime
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped finely
dash of garlic powder
salt

For the shrimp:

1 pound small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

6-8 tortillas, corn or flour
queso fresco
cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

For the pickled onion and jalapeno:

Whisk together the vinegar, water, sugar and salt. Add the sliced onion and jalapeno and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour. You can also make this ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight.

For the cabbage:

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the cabbage and fry over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until cabbage has softened and started to brown slightly. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and remove from heat. Squeeze a bit of lime over the top.

For the avocado sauce:

Mash all ingredients together with a fork until very smooth.

For the shrimp:

Rinse the shrimp under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, garlic powder and pepper and add the shrimp. Toss to coat. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same skillet you used to fry the cabbage over medium heat. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, toss the shrimp in the flour mixture (reserve the excess flour) and lay them out in the pan in a single layer—avoid overcrowding the pan (you may have to fry the shrimp in several batches. Add more oil to additional batches if necessary.). Increase the heat to medium high and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove cooked shrimp and set on a paper towel to drain while you fry the rest of the shrimp. To double-fry the shrimp, toss the cooked shrimp in the leftover flour mixture and cook over medium-high heat in another tablespoon of oil.

To assemble:

Warm the tortillas in a dry skillet if desired. Sprinkle a handful of shrimp and cabbage on top of a tortilla. Add some pickled vegetables and a dollop of avocado sauce. Top with queso fresco, chopped cilantro and an additional squeeze of lime.

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