Thursday, May 15, 2008

Almond Crusted Shrimp Tacos with Raspberry Pico de Gallo and Spicy Lime Mayo

This is a seafood taco that is dressy enough to impress guests, unique enough to dazzle your foodie friends, and still fast enough to whip up when pressed for time (20 minutes or less from start to finish). There is no other way to say it: this is is absolutely the best thing I have made in a long time. It was unexpected bursts of fruit dancing through crisp and crunch and tangy spice. It was good enough to call my husband on the phone and brag about how he had missed out. It was good enough for my friend Natasha to eek out an "Oh my god this is good! I can't believe we made this!" before she got back to the business of chowing down. When it was done we both stood, utterly satiated with bellies full, staring down at the empty plates while our greedy little taste buds wished for more.

This dish definitely has the kiss of gourmet, but is it skinny? Granted, any time you have almond crusting and frying you aren't exactly eating a salad, and anyone who tells you different is probably lying. But there are two options for this recipe, and it is delicious either way (I've tried it). You can make the decadent almond crusted shrimp along with a slice of buttery avocado, or if you are watching your waistline, go for the "light" version of boiled shrimp and skip the avocado. Take a gander at the nutritional information for a serving of the "light" version of this recipe: you won't believe how much taste and satisfaction you can get and still be that healthy.

I'm sending this over for my first ever entry into the Royal Foodie Joust hosted by the Leftover Queen. So feel free to head over to the forum and vote for me!

Almond Crusted Shrimp Tacos with Raspberry Pico de Gallo and Spicy Lime Mayo
by Erin McDonnell

Serves 2.

Serve with:
Small corn or flour tortillas
Finely shredded green cabbage
Sliced avocado (optional)

Spicy Lime Mayo
1.5 Tablespoons mayo (3/4 ounce)
juice from half a lime (1/3 ounce)
zest from half a lime
1/16 tsp cayenne pepper
3 turns salt mill (about two pinches)
1 turn fresh ground black pepper

Combine ingredients in a small bowl, such as a custard cup. Whisk together well with a fork. Taste and adjust to your preference.

Raspberry Pico De Gallo
8-12 fresh raspberries
1.5 Tbsp Vidalia onion (or shallot)
1.5 Tbsp cilantro

Rinse raspberries and pat dry gently. Finely mince the onion and cilantro. The raspberries can be mixed in either whole or quartered. Quartered will make this look like more traditional pico de gallo. I liked how leaving the berries whole allowed me to encounter the unexpected burst of berry from time to time while eating.

Almond Crusted Shrimp
1/2 pound jumbo shrimp (approx 4 per person)
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds*
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
3-4 turns of fresh black pepper
1 egg beaten (will only use half)
oil for frying

*Hint: if you are watching your fat intake, you can save about 5 grams of fat per serving by substituting half of the chopped almonds with bread crumbs

If you are working with raw, uncooked shrimp you will need to boil the shrimp first. Uncooked shrimp are gray in color. If your shrimp are raw, put a pot of well salted water on to boil. When the water boils, reduce the heat to low and add the shrimp. When cooked, the shrimp should turn red and float to the top of the water. When they are done, the flesh should appear opaque and firm. This takes approximately 2-4 minutes. Remove from water. If you have not already done so, remove the shells, cut off the tails, and devein the shrimp (check here for a video on how to devein shrimp).

If you are working with precooked (already pink) shrimp, just be sure to remove the shells, devein, and cut the tails off.

Finely chop almonds until they are the size of small pebbles or coarse sand. Mix with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put a pan of oil on high heat on the stove. Allow the oil to get hot. There are two good ways to test the heat. First, if you have a silver-colored pan bottom, you should be able to see that the oil has begun to separate slightly, so that when you tip the pan from side to side, the color seems to move somewhat separately from the mass. Second, if you drop a small pebble of almond into the pan it should begin to sizzle almost immediately.

Pat shrimp dry. Dip the shrimp into the egg and then dip into the almond coating. Turn to coat well. Coat all the shrimp first. Then, working in batches so you don't over-crowd your pan, fry the shrimp in oil. Allow the shrimp to rest on one side long enough for the crust to form and the coating to solidify. Almonds may slightly brown but should not turn dark espresso or black in color or they will be bitter. Turn to cook on the other side. Approximately 2-4 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your oil.

Remove from oil to a paper-towel covered plate.

For Light Version
Prepare pico de gallo and spicy lime mayo. Cook raw shrimp as directed above in step one. If working with precooked shrimp, warm shrimp in hot water. Remove shell, tail, and devein. Skip directly to assembling and enjoy!

To assemble
Two tortillas per person. Add a bed of shredded cabbage. Add sliced avocado if desired. Add shrimp (approximately two jumbo shrimp per taco). Top with pico de gallo and spicy lime mayo.

Nutritional information, light version, per serving (two tacos).
"Light" version includes:
  • two corn tortillas
  • cabbage
  • four jumbo boiled shrimp
  • pico de gallo
  • lime mayo.

Does not include avocado or fried almond crusting.


  1. Well done, this looks fabulous! You did a great job of highlighting the lime in the "spicy lime mayo".

    Good luck in the joust!

  2. Erin, The title of this post just launched me into mouth watering nirvana. I'm imagining all sorts of things that could be done with "Almond Crusted Shrimp."

    One question though. Why do you boil the shrimp before frying them? It seems like the 2-4 minutes of boiling combined with the 2-4 minutes of frying would over cook the shrimp and leave you with rubbery crustaceans. I'm just sayin.

  3. Is it just me, or does the name just seem like a nonsensical mashup of random food names?

    "Almond Crusted Shrimp Tacos"
    "Turkey Drizzled Oyster Cakes"
    "Pomegranate Basted Wildebeest Sandwiches"
    "Flamingo Squeezed Appletini Marshmallows"

    Good on you for making such gibberish taste good ;).

  4. I made some almond-crusted shrimp recently as well and I know how wonderful this tastes!

  5. Lisarene, glad you like the idea of spicy lime mayo.

    Philip, mouthwatering nirvana is what I'm all about. As for the frying, it was really two things. First, better safe than sorry. I don't make fried shrimp a ton, I wasn't really sure how long the almond crust would take, and I didnt want to be in a position of deciding between burned crust or raw insides. Second, I thought there was a good chance people would want to use the convenient precooked, peeled shrimp anyway, so I wanted to be sure it would work. I took mine out of the boil a little early so they finished cooking in the fry. They were not rubbery at all, but I buy great raw shrimp from our local grocer.

    Rob Taylor, you funny Canadian you. You have caught me. Actually I just use a random word generator and then make up recipes based on the results. And turkey drizzled oyster cakes was definitely next on my list. how did you know?!

  6. This looks great!!!!! Fab entry to the joust!

  7. Very inspiring. I've been thinking for a while now about what my joust entry is going to be -- I'll also be a first timer -- and you've made me believe that all things are possible!

  8. Ruth-thanks!

    Pauline-Woohoo. I like my food to be tasty, but it is an extra compliment to hear it is inspirational. Go ahead lady, look those dessert ingredients dead in the eye and say "savory."

  9. looks so good, i love the fruit pico. good luck in the joust!

  10. These really do look incredible! I can imagine all the wonderful flavor sensations dancing around in your mouth, not to mention the great texture! This looks great! Best of luck!

  11. Wow! What a wonderful mix of flavors. I am sooooo making this over the holiday weekend.
    Thank you for sharing your culinary creation!

  12. These look too good. I have to make these sometime soon!

  13. These shrimp tacos sound amazing!! I really like the sound of almond crusted shrimp. Adding raspberries is a great idea! I will have to try it.

  14. This looks great! And it's so simple. Like the next food obsessed person, I have folders of saved recipes, but this one is getting a folder all its own. So I don't lose track of it. Or forget about it. Because I really want to make it.

  15. I'm Sophie, Key Ingredient's Chief Blogger. We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email if interested. Thanks :)


  16. Sounds delicious- thanks for pointing me this recipe through my blog!

  17. Congratulations on winning the Joust! Can’t wait to see your pick of ingredients!

  18. Congrats on your win!!!!! Great Joust!


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