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Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Cream and Charred Poblano Pepper

Shrimp tacos
Susan Russo for NPR

These tacos are great for a weeknight meal or impromptu get-together since they can be made quickly on the stovetop. A memorable chipotle sauce from a tiny Mexican restaurant in New Mexico inspired me to create this chipotle cream. Its distinctive fiery and smoky flavor pairs well with the shrimp and is tempered by cool mayo and Mexican crema — an unpasteurized cream. Charring the poblano and peeling it first draws out its intense peppery flavor, which goes naturally with crunchy sweet corn and creamy avocado. If you've got more time and you prefer a smokier, charred flavor, then you could make this dish on the grill.

Makes 4 servings

Chipotle Cream

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 large garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped

2 scallions, chopped

4 to 5 chilies in adobo sauce, roughly chopped****

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Mexican crema****

2 teaspoons water, or as needed

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 minutes until aromatic and slightly golden. Add scallions and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Place in a small food processor. Add chilies in adobo sauce, mayonnaise, Mexican crema and water, and pulse. Add more water as necessary and pulse until sauce is thick and creamy (a few little bumps are fine). The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated.


24 large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil, for searing shrimp

1 poblano pepper****

1 teaspoon canola oil

1 large ear of corn, kernels cut from cob

1 small avocado, diced

1/4 teaspoon fresh lime juice for sprinkling the avocado

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, optional

Salt, to taste

Place the shrimp in a large bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat and set aside.

Place poblano pepper over an open gas flame, turning occasionally, until thoroughly charred and blistered on all sides. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, and using some paper towel, gently scrape off the skin. Halve, stem and seed the pepper. Cut into strips, then dice and place in a bowl. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook 3 to 4 minutes until slightly charred yet crisp. Add to the bowl with the poblano pepper. Peel and dice the avocado, sprinkle with a little lime juice to prevent it from turning brown and add to bowl. Add cilantro, season with salt and toss gently. Set aside.

To cook shrimp, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp and cook 5 to 6 minutes, turning to ensure that they brown evenly on both sides. Remove to a plate when cooked.

To assemble tacos, heat tortillas in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 minute per side or, using metal tongs, simply hold over an open flame until warmed and slightly charred. Spread a spoonful of the chipotle cream on a tortilla, top with some of the poblano-corn mixture, three shrimp and some fresh cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately.

****Chilies in adobo sauce can be found in the Mexican food section of most major supermarkets while poblano peppers can be found in the produce section. Both — plus the Mexican crema can also be found in Latin American markets.

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