There is this guy named Todd Wilbur who makes copycat recipes for a living and publishes them in books and on his website. Fast food, chain restaurants, packaged food, nothing is safe from his cloning. I’ve mentioned previously that I bought his book Top Secret Recipes Step by Step just because it had a clone of Raisin’ Cane’s Sauce in it. Well beyond that particular recipe, because I really did want a copycat of Cane’s Sauce, we don’t eat at chains enough and I just don’t care enough about something being a copycat and tasting exactly like something else. I want just want food to taste good. In fact many of the recipes in the book come from restaurants I have either never heard of or never been to, like the one I am posting today. Shirmp tacos inspired by Rubio’s.
The BEST and I mean absolute best part of these tacos is the cheesy tortilla. I’ve started doing this often when I make various tacos. You literally melt the cheese onto the tortillas, cheese side down so it gets not only melty but also a little brown and crispy. Best tortillas ever.
Top these tasty toritllas with some marinated and sautéed shrimp, a little of my homemade chipotle mayo, onions and cilantro, avocado and when it’s not lent, bacon. A squeeze of lime on each tortillas (our own little touch) adds a zip of freshness. I ditched the salsa from the recipe because we didn’t like it and frankly prefer my own homemade chipotle mayo to the chipotle cream sauce in the recipe. But like I said, I want food that tastes good rather than a perfect copycat. I’m not saying the Rubio’s version doesn’t taste good, my point is you should never be afraid to customize something at home to your specific tastes.
Here’s what you need for my take on these tacos:
Before I get started on the recipe, I threw an entire package of Minnesota Gold Applewood Smoked bacon – I wanted a thinner slice for this recipe even though I generally prefer their thick cut – in the oven to bake and crisp up. When it was done I crumbled it. You don’t need all the bacon for the recipe but having real bacon bits in the fridge for salad, mac and cheese, breakfast sandwiches, etc is pretty darn handy.
Next we’ll make the marinade for the shrimp. It starts with black pepper, paprika, salt, ancho chili powder, and garlic powder.
Mix the spices with some lime juice, vegetable oil, fresh minced cilantro, and a bit of water.
Toss in the shrimp and marinate for an hour.
While the shrimp marinates, get the rest of the taco fixings ready. You’ll need that bacon, some minced onion mixed with chopped cilantro, some of my chipotle mayo, avocado slices and fresh lime wedges.
Skip the bacon if it’s lent – I’ve done this before and while I love bacon, the tacos are really yummy still.
Then we’re going to dive right in to those tortillas. I preheated my griddle to warm and set a sheetpan on the griddle to keep the tortillas warm as I cooked them. You could also keep warm in a warm oven. Or just let them be on a sheet tray – I wanted to keep them warm because I was planning to cook the shrimp after. Although I consider myself a pretty good multitasker – my team may disagree about the good part on some days but they would definitely agree I am a notorious multitasker – I didn’t want to burn the cheese or overcook the shrimp by trying to do both at once.
So preheat a 10 inch skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle a pile of cheese in a circle just smaller than the tortilla in the skillet – the recipe calls for a ¼ cup but I just took a healthy pinch, I probably only used about 2 T (because I got 16 tortillas from one bag). Yes I know, crazy, I used LESS cheese than a recipe called for.
Then press a tortilla on top of the cheese. I have heat proof fingers so I pressed down lightly with my fingers but a spatula works too.
After about a minute, use a spatula to flip the tortilla over. We’re not really cooking it on this side, we’re just getting it face-up and checking the cheese is brown enough for us.
Then transfer to a cookie sheet.
To cook the shrimp, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Heat just a little bit of oil. Remove shrimp from marinade and add to the pan.
Cook for about 2 minutes on each side until done and remove from the pan.
Build your taco by squeezing on some chipotle mayo, onions and cilantro, avocado, shrimp and then a sprinkle of bacon. Finish it off with a squeeze of lime, just as you dig in.
I apologize in advance if these create an addiction to cheesy tortillas.
- 2 t fresh ground black pepper
- 2 t garlic powder
- 2 t ancho chili powder
- 1 t paprika
- ½ t kosher salt
- Juice of 1 lime
- ½ c vegetable oil
- ¼ c cilantro
- ½ c water
- 32 (51/60) shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
- ¾ c onion, diced
- ¼ c cilantro, minced
- 1 c finely shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 8 small flour tortillas, fajita size
- 1 T vegetable oil
- Chipotle mayo
- ½ c bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Lime wedges
- Combine spices, lime juice, vegetable oil, first quarter cup cilantro and water. Remove tails from shrimp and add to marinade. Marinate for one hour.
- Combine diced onion and remaining quarter cup cilantro in a small bowl and set aside.
- After 1 hour, make tortillas. Preheat oven or griddle on warm and cover a baking sheet with foil. Set directly on griddle. If you don’t have a griddle use a warm oven.
- Preheat 10 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle about 2 T cheese into a circle slightly smaller than tortilla. Press tortilla on top of cheese and cook for about a minute. Flip with a spatula then transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
- Preheat a 12 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Remove shrimp from marinade and add to pan. Cook about 2 minutes per side until done.
- Build tortillas. Add chipotle sauce to tortilla followed by chipotle mayo, onion and cilantro blend, four shrimp, bacon and avocado. Squeeze a small wedge of lime over the taco.
- Serve immediately.