Friday, July 1, 2011

Garlic Lime Skewers and Shrimp Tacos

Recently, any food on a skewer seems to be quite appealing. Summer is taking root: carnivals are popping up on the weekends and the smell of (other people's) backyard BBQs are wafting down the street, flavoring my imagination with ideas of flavorful kebabs. Inspired, more than one dinner this week featured deliciously marinated food pierced by a very pointy stick and seared in my cast iron skillet until it was well charred and the garlicy aromas made my mouth water. This is an easy and quick recipe, aside from the few minutes it takes to skewer the food. The first night I used this marinade on thinly sliced chicken, skewered and  served with rice and vegetables, but it got devoured before any photos could be snapped. You can make this dish with any assortment of vegetables or meat you like, and, if you are lucky enough to have a grill, this would be even tastier cooked with the flame and smoke of an open fire!

On the second night of skewering, the same marinade of garlic, lime, cilantro, marjoram, thyme, oil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of agave made the perfect base for very flavorful shrimp tacos. I also skewered and marinated some tofu for the vegetarians. Corn Tortillas were heated on the open flame of the gas stove, fresh lettuce was picked from the garden, and a yogurt and cilantro cream with a handful of fresh corn kernels made a delicious dressing. Very simple, very quick and incredibly satisfying!

 Cilantro Yogurt Cream
 Shrimp taco with a little extra fresh corn

Garlic Lime Marinade
for shrimp, chicken, tofu or beef

One pound of small shrimp or other meat:

4 Cloves garlic, peeled finely chopped
1 Lime, zested and juiced
3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped (about 1/4 of a bunch)
6 Sprigs combined of other herbs you have or like (I used marjoram and thyme. Basil, oregano, taragon, sage, or others would also taste good.)
1/4 Cup oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle of honey, agave or a pinch of sugar
you can add dried or fresh hot pepper to this if you like
  1. Finely chop the garlic, salt, and herbs together or grind with a mortar and pestle or in a blender. Add oil, lime juice and zest, sweetener and pepper. 
  2. Clean and cut your meat or vegetables. For shrimp or fish: rinse in cold water, add a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lime; let sit for 10 minutes, drain, marinate and skewer. Chicken or beef: cut meat in very thin strips, marinate, and thread the skewer back and forth through the meat for easy quick cooking. For tofu: use extra firm, and cut into thick slices to withstand skewering. I marinated my shrimp and chicken for only 20 minutes, but you can marinate them for much longer, even over night if you have the time. 
  3. To cook: In a very hot heavy frying pan, drizzle a small amount of oil, and place enough skewers to fit with room around them. Do not crowd them or they will steam and not sear. Cook on high heat until one side is browned, flip over and cook for a minute or so on the other side until cooked through. Repeat until all the skewers are cooked.
To Make Shrimp Tacos:
Shrimp Skewers (above)
Corn tortillas - warmed (over an open flame if possible)
Cilantro Cream (below)
Lettuce - whole leaves or finely sliced
Fresh corn kernels - cut for 2 ears of corn (you can use frozen if needed)

Cilantro Cream
1/2 cup yogurt
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
pinch salt
pinch pepper
1/2 garlic clove minced (optional)
1/2 cup Fresh corn kernels (optional)

1. Stir all the ingredients together. Serve or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Serve all the taco fixings in bowls on the table, and add any others that you are inspired to include: hot peppers, peaches, cucumbers or anything else that sounds good to you. Let everyone dig in and make their own tacos, it is a fun and delicious meal.

What do you like to skewer? (And I am intending this question to mean food!)

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