Dairy Free Shrimp Tacos:
Every once and a while a meal comes along that completely knocks my socks off and for me this was one of them. Like so many people out there, I am a complete sucker for tacos. It combines the best of so many worlds, avocados, fresh raw veggies, the right kinds of spices and it should be light and satisfying. These are really versatile so feel free to play around with the spices, protein or veggies you have on hand. Just make them- trust me!
Sometimes, I get an idea for a recipe out of nowhere, I could just be sitting there trying to focus on work, pay attention in a meeting, you know, those types of things and then suddenly this idea comes over me. But it doesn’t just come up and then I think “oh yeah that could work,” and then move on, no it comes in with such force that it’s all I think about right up until I am executing it. So many times, this happens at night when I am in bed and my mind is free to wander and I lay in bed thinking of what I have to get in order to make this idea happen. The next day, it’s usually still on my mind and then I spend more time thinking about it, dreaming about it and sometimes even going online to see if anyone else has created that recipe (which it usually has been done in some way). Well that’s exactly what happened with these shrimp tacos. Luckily, this time all that thinking paid off (trust me, it doesn’t always work out this way!).
Sauces and dips are my jam:
Sauces and dips often times (for me anyways) can make or break the meal entirely. I wanted something light (dairy free), easy to make, green and of course delicious. I remembered the dressing that a friend made in our food demo class, when she made a delicious dill dressing over top of zucchini noodles and thought that would be perfect for this Mexican inspired taco. I didn’t have her recipe on hand, but sort of remembered the basis for it and I knew that I wanted to change the herb from dill to cilantro, since this is for a taco. If you are one of those people that hate cilantro, you could try using another herb instead, perhaps parsley or basil could work, or leave it out altogether. What works here is the lime juice which provides the tanginess and the honey which helps to balance it out. Also, if you can’t have cashews, you could try making this with hemp hearts or perhaps sunflower seeds, though I haven’t tried this variation myself.
The importance of buying quality shrimp:
The quality of the shrimp you buy also helps to determine how healthy this meal really is. Just like other fish, I usually recommend buying wild over farmed and getting to know where exactly your fish is coming from (even if wild) is super important. Similar to a confined animal feeding operation (factory farming), it is important to choose wisely when it comes to fish as well. Wild caught fish are not only a healthier option for us, but also for the environment as well (in most cases). If you want to read a little bit more about the ugly side of shrimp production and the importance of buying quality shrimp, have a look at this article. An interesting bit of information that I also came across was that shrimps contain an antioxidant called astaxanthin (who knew shrimp contained antioxidants?!). This is the primary colour pigment found in shrimp and helps to provide that red and orange shade, in fact this compound accounts for at least two-thirds of all carotenoids in shrimp. So what does this antioxidant do exactly? It actually provides antioxidant support to both the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system. However, it is important to note that under natural conditions, shrimp get astaxanthin through their diet from consuming smaller organisms that contain this carotenoid, but when farmed, the astaxanthin content depends on the composition of their feed. The synthetic form of astaxanthin is part of the controversy particularly because it is made from petro chemicals that some say are not fit for human consumption. If you want to read more about the powerful benefits of including this super antioxidant, you can find more here. Overall, I wanted to spend a little time highlighting the importance of buying sustainable fish/seafood because I really do believe it’s not only better for us health wise but also for the health of our oceans and the planet.
Now, let’s take a look at the recipe that may just go down as one of my personal favourites.
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ground chipotle
- Cayenne and chili flakes (to your preference)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup raw cashews (soaked for a few hours, or soaked for 35 minutes in recently boiled water and then rinsed and drained)
- One bunch of cilantro (leaves)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp avocado oil
- Juice from 2 limes
- ¼ cup water (plus 1-2 tbsp depending on your desired consistency)
- ½ tbsp. raw honey
- Pinch of salt and pepper
- ½ red cabbage (sliced thinly or shredded)
- 1 red pepper (sliced and cooked)
- Green onion for garnish (or extra cilantro)
- Extra lime juice for squeezing on top of tacos
- Soak your cashews (if you didn’t prepare this in advance, you can soak them for about 45 minutes in just boiled water).
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients in your blender and blend on high for a minute or two until it is creamy, you can always add extra water if you want a thinner sauce.
- De-vein and peel the shrimp and put them in a shallow container with the spices and let it sit while you prepare everything else.
- Shred or slice the cabbage.
- Add about ¼ cup of the dressing to your cabbage and put it in the fridge.
- Slice the pepper into four large pieces.
- Heat up your cast iron skillet with a touch of avocado oil (if required) and blister the pepper until it is cooked through.
- Remove from heat and let it cool before you slice them thinner.
- Cook the shrimp about 2 minutes per side on your cast iron.
- Remove the shrimp from heat and prepare the tacos (you can heat up the taco wraps if you want).
- Mash some avocado on the taco, then place the cabbage on top, followed by the pepper and the shrimp.
- Drizzle the sauce on top and garnish with cilantro or green onions and extra chili flakes and freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
- If you know you are making this ahead of time, prepare your cashews by soaking them first (overnight is best), then this dish really comes together quite easily.