notes from the mexican kitchen
Taco Tuesday/

Cool it Down with Shrimp Tacos and Crunchy Vegetables

TacoTuesdayLogo_blueThe inspiration for this #TacoTuesday stretches all the way back to my first research trips to Mexico, when a Yucatecan taquería cook showed me how to beat the peninsula’s stifling heat.

See, near the fresh seafood stalls in the bustling Mercado Lucas de Galvez, you’ll find a row of fondas selling tacos and tostadas with bright-tasting room-temp fillings. One is always camarones a la vinagreta: poached shrimp garnished with crunchy vegetables in a citrus vinaigrette.

We take the exact same approach here: the shrimp gets poached in aromatic “broth” of water, black peppercorns, allspice berries and bay leaves, while the simple, vegetably filling, adorned with tangy lime dressing, comes together in virtually no time. (And if you’re really pressed for time — or don’t feel like boiling water for poaching—  simply buy cooked shrimp.)

Quick tip: adding a creamy potato salad on the side makes for a very good summer supper.

Camarones a la Vinagreta
Recipe from Season 5, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 12tacos


  • Shrimp
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1/2teaspoon black peppercorns, very coarsely ground
  • 1/4teaspoon allspice berries, very coarsely ground
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12ounces shrimp (40 to 50 count), in their shells
  • Completing the Dish
  • 1/2small red onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 medium-small tomato, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 5 radishes, finely diced
  • 1 1/2tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 1/2tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 5tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably half olive oil and half vegetable oil
  • 1teaspoon Salt
  • 2 to 3 leaves romaine lettuce, for garnish
  • sprigs of cilantro, for garnish
  • 12 warm corn tortillas, for serving


Squeeze the two lime halves into a medium saucepan, then add the two squeezed rinds, the black pepper, allspice, bay leaves and 1 quart water. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

Raise the heat to high, add the shrimp, re-cover and let the liquid return just barely to a simmer. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, hold the lid slightly askew and strain off all the liquid. Re-cover tightly, set aside for 5 to 8 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through, then rinse the shrimp under cold water to stop the cooking.

Peel the shrimp, then devein them (if you want) by running a knife down the back to expose the dark intestinal track and scraping it out. If the shrimp are medium or larger, cut them into 1/2 -inch bits; place in a bowl.

Add the red onion, tomato, radish and cilantro to the shrimp. In a small bowl or jar with a tight fitting lid, combine the lime juice, oil and salt.

Shortly before serving, mix the dressing ingredients thoroughly, then pour over the shrimp mixture. Toss to coat everything well, cover and refrigerate or set aside at room temperature.

Line a shallow bowl with the lettuce leaves. Taste the shrimp mixture for salt, scoop it into the prepared bowl and serve, garnished with sprigs of cilantro.


  1. The shrimp cooking seems tricky. Put them in, immediately drain liquid. ? Then, the sealed pot with shrimp for up to 8 minutes. That’s a very long time for shrimp, as us Southwesterners are used to them. When in boiling water, a minute or two usually suffices. The fairly dry pan account for the difference?

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