During the hot days of summer, we are all looking for a flavorful, healthy and quick meal. I frequently turn to fresh seafood as an alternative to traditional grilled burgers and dogs or dinner salad.
A family favorite and crowd pleaser, you can’t go wrong with are Mimi’s Fast & Easy Shrimp Fajitas.
Oh, so simple! Oh, so quick! Oh, so DELICIOUS!!
I serve the fajitas, whether they’re shrimp, chicken or beef, with warm flour tortillas along sides of Mexican Rice or Refried Beans, and a simple green salad. As an added bonus, this dish is gluten-free, if you use gluten-free flour or corn tortillas. If you’re filled with ambition, you should make or learn to make homemade flour tortillas.Takes the “quick” out of it, but still. Some store-bought brands can be very good, like El Milagro. But like everything homemade, they’re just better tasting. I did make my own every week for many years to serve at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Awesome!
I think my Mexican-ex-mother-in-law would get a kick out the fact that I cook so much Mexican food – mainly inspired by her. My mom would make out-of-this-world tacos, but rarely ventured out of that comfort zone. When I married, I learned so much about Carmen’s Mexican cooking. She taught me a lot. She always made her own tortillas, and she was lickity-split! Amazing!
I like to buy raw shrimp in the 20-25/pound range that have been shelled and deveined. It makes the process simple and quick. You can use frozen shrimp – it doesn’t take long to thaw. All you do is put the frozen shrimp in a bowl and fill it with cool tap water. In about 20 minutes, the shrimp are ready to use. I plan on 1/3 pound of shrimp per person. One pound will feed three gracious eaters or two voracious ones.
Sometimes even cleaned and shelled shrimp can leave behind bits and pieces of the black vein running down the middle. I always run the tip of a paring knife down along the track to make sure the black stuff is gone. According to seafood sources, you don’t have to. But why wouldn’t you? It looks awful. And it’s good to run your fingers through the water to check for any pieces of shells wandering aimlessly around.
Rinse the resultant shrimp well in cold water, drain well, and layer on a baking sheet lined with a double thickness of paper towels. Place a paper towel on top, and pat dry. It’s good to have the shrimp as dry as possible so they’ll sear well in a hot skillet.
Now, spray the tops lightly with cooking spray. Season lightly with salt and pepper. If you want to add some spice, it’s a good time to sprinkle with any or all of your favorite Mexican spices: ground cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper. Whatever you prefer. Set aside while you prep the vegetables.
For one pound of shrimp, I use one medium onion cut in half and then into strips. One red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into strips. One large jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded, and finely diced. And one clove of garlic, minced.
The next step goes quickly. Have a serving plate or serving bowl at the ready for the vegetables as they come off the heat.
Heat a griddle over or a large skillet to medium-high heat. A cast iron griddle or skillet would be ideal, but not imperative. I use a 12″ iron skillet when I’m cooking one pound of shrimp, and a larger griddle over two burners when I cook larger quantities.
Add two tablespoons of olive or neutral cooking oil to the skillet and spread it around to cover the bottom. Add the sliced onions, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper, and cook quickly, stir-fry style, until the edges begin to brown and the onions begin to wilt. Quick cooking will help the onions keep their shape and stay crunchy.
Add the red peppers, jalapeno, and garlic to the skillet. Again, quickly stir-fry the vegetables until the peppers are heated through and the garlic becomes fragrant.
Put the cooked vegetables in your serving bowl or plate. (I use a flat oval 3-quart Pyrex dish.) Set aside and keep warm. Don’t cover with foil or plastic wrap, because the veggies should keep their bite. Covering them will steam them, and the vegetables will be mushy. Still delicious, but you know. I usually put them in an unheated oven or in the microwave.
In the same skillet over medium-high heat, layer the shrimp in a single layer, seasoned side down.
Cook for 2-3 minutes until the shrimp just begin to turn pink and a little carmelization is happening around the edges.
One-by-one, flip the shrimp to cook on the other side – 1-2 minutes max. The shrimp should be cooked through, but tender. Overcooking will make them tough. Sprinkle with the juice of half a lemon.
Spoon the shrimp over the cooked vegetables.