From the Kitchen – The Stars of the Show

by Joan Saunders | photos by Scottee Giles – 

I have very fond memories of travelling to a variety of sunny spots over the years and indulging in the most glorious seafood tacos. With prawn season upon us, we can bring that feeling home and enjoy our local bounty by encasing this very tasty shellfish in a tortilla, all while augmenting the flavours with a delectable variety of accoutrements. Fabulous.

If you know me, you will know that I absolutely love condiments and putting together my own little combinations of flavourful yumminess. A tortilla is just another excuse to create a lovely, savoury package of prawns, cabbage and other goodies. What’s also wonderful is that we have local companies that make amazing tortillas; you can pick them up from Adriana’s The Whole Enchilada or find some made by MAiiZ. Whatever type you prefer, corn or flour, having a great-tasting tortilla will start you off on the right foot.

The star of the show is, of course, the prawns. They don’t need much to make them shine, but adding a zesty mixture of garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin highlights the goodness of these morsels. The secret to not overcooking them is to keep an eye on the crevice in the back of the prawn where the vein was removed. Stay focused on the thickest part of the prawn, the opposite end to the tail, and when the flesh at the base of the crevice shifts from translucent to opaque, it’s cooked through. This won’t take too long, but the cooking time does depend on the size of the prawns.

What’s also fun about these tacos is that everyone can assemble a mixture that suits them. Not fond of onion? No worries; add more avocado or cabbage. Don’t like cilantro? Sprinkle on a little more cheese. Squeezing on some lime juice also augments the flavours of the whole combination, as the freshness of the citrus makes the components meld together beautifully.

But, for the grand finale, don’t forget to drizzle on the taco sauce as it makes the whole mixture sing. It’s a simple condiment, but sometimes simple is best. If you’re worried about adding the hot sauce, you can always leave it out and let people add sriracha if they’re so inclined. A great option if you’re assembling a prawn taco feast for Father’s Day is to spread it all out on the table and let people discover their own special combinations. Some side dishes might include Spanish rice, Mexican corn salad or rice and beans. But whatever you choose, ’tis the season to savour the stars of the show: some fresh, local prawns.

Stars of the Show Prawn Tacos

1 to 1 ½ pound uncooked prawns or shrimp, peeled
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

Taco fillings
8 tortillas (6 inches, small ones) corn or flour, your choice
1 ½ – 2 cups cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced (or slaw mix)
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, diced
½ red onion, diced small
1 cup grated Cotija cheese,
or ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese
½ cup cilantro, chopped coarse
1 lime, cut in wedges

Taco sauce
⅓ cup sour cream
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 ½-2 tbsp lime juice, fresh squeezed is best
¾ tsp garlic powder
½-¾ tsp sriracha sauce, or to personal taste/preference

Make taco sauce first. In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together. You can use this bowl for people to take the sauce from or transfer to another bowl or squeeze bottle as desired.

Get your serving platter ready: slice cabbage, dice avocado, finely dice red onion, coarsely chop cilantro. Place these on a serving platter along with lime wedges. Leave a space where you will put the cooked prawns, or the bowl of cooked prawns.
Pat prawns dry with paper towels; put them in a medium bowl. Add seasonings, garlic; stir gently to mix all together.

Place a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil then add the prawns in single layer. Sauté 1-2 minutes per side or until just cooked. You don’t want them to go rubbery. They should be cooked through, not overdone. Transfer to serving platter or bowl as they’re cooked.

Toast tortillas in another small frying pan on high heat until lightly charred in spots. This should take about 30 seconds per side.

Build tacos by arranging cabbage, prawns, toppings, sauce in each toasted tortilla.

Adapted from:

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