Crispy Shrimp and Texas Caviar Tacos/Solemn Oath Gabriel Hounds/Mos Generator “Shadowlands”
Having had a hankering for hard shell ground beef tacos a few weeks ago, we bought a box of hard tortilla shells for perhaps the first time since maybe the Clinton administration. Taco Bell has had the market 100% cornered when it came to our hard shell taco cravings over the past three decades; there has never been a need to make them at home. We’re here to tell you, that still hasn’t changed. Gringo taco night came and when push came to shove, we opted for what we always make instead: soft shell tortillas. That left the unopened box of hard shell tortillas in the pantry along with the now certain knowledge that we’d never use them in the capacity for which they were bought. We thought long and hard (about 2 minutes) on how to use these up. Then it came to us, we love Texas Caviar (so named only if you’re from Texas, that is.) I think every southern state calls it by their own state name; Alabama Caviar, Georgia Caviar, Louisiana Caviar (actually, that’s a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie, but you get the point). It’s essentially corn, a mixture of beans and veggies all tossed in a slightly sweet dressing and ate with tortilla chips as a dip. We took that same concept and added grilled shrimp to the mix, making perfect hard shell taco filling that is made even better when smothered in a spicy crema and crumbled queso fresco. We had a killer beer from Solemn Oath to pair up with it too, Gabriel Hounds New England-Style IPA. On the stereo, the summery good time tunes from the iconic Mos Generator on their latest release “Shadowlands”.
Crispy Shrimp and Texas Caviar Tacos – Texas Caviar can have up to 15-20 ingredients in it depending on the recipe (usually it’s how crazy people want to get in the bean category) but tonight we’re sticking to the basics and starting by warming a couple of tablespoons of oil in a cast iron skillet on the grill, then adding in 2 large chopped red onions.
We’re just going to sweat these out for a few minutes to soften before adding in 2 cups of corn kernels and two drained and rinsed cans of black beans to the the pan.
Now it’s time to season all of this goodness with quite a few good shakes of La Curandera Mexican Rub and give everything a quick stir.
We can scoot the veggies over to the cool side of the grill while we tend to the shrimp. We’re going to pick up the La Curandera bottle again to season the raw shrimp by tossing it with the Mexican Rub and a little olive oil.
The shrimp will go down over direct heat on the existing embers left in the grill. Only a minute or two per side is all they will take before we can remove them from the heat.
Before we can start making the tacos, we need to finish up the corn and black bean mixture. To the cast iron pan we’re going to crumble a few handfuls of queso fresco around the pan.
Next up some chunks of fresh, ripe avocado get strewn around the pan.
Now it’s time to add the vinaigrette which is just 1 tablespoon of honey, 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and a few shakes of La Curandera.
The last piece is fresh chopped cilantro.
Now we can start building the tacos up starting with a few shrimp tucked into warm hard shell taco shells and forming the Texas caviar on top of the shrimp all the way to the top, then smoothing it out so the entire shell is filled.
The crema that goes on next is just a combo of plain Greek yogurt and hot sauce.
Crumbled queso fresco is the final touch before we dig into these crispy tacos that were absolutely addicting.
Solemn Oath Gabriel Hounds – This beer is as muddy and orangish brown looking as the sediment at the bottom of a carboy with a fluffy white head sitting on top. In other words, a really pretty beer for those of us that like our beers unfiltered. The aroma is also of freshly boiled wort, producing that smell of when the hops get added to the hot boil. What makes these New England style IPAs unique though is the creaminess in the mouthfeel. The hops are there in full force, but then comes this sweet, almost lactose like sensation. People are lovin on this style, for us it’s a good change of pace beer and this is one of the best we’ve had. The pairing was spot on as well, a great beer to wash down these tacos with.
Mos Generator “Shadowlands” – The brainchild of one of rock and roll’s most dedicated and talented students, Tony Reed’s Mos Generator has been cranking out killer album after killer album in pretty rapid succession and that’s not even counting the split EPs, live albums and solo offerings that have been peppered in along the way. The one constant aside from Reed’s physical presence (literally and on stage; if you ever get the chance to see them live, you almost feel sorry for whatever band has the unenviable task of following up their show) is Reed’s penchant for crushing riffs and smooth harmonious vocals. Their latest, “Shadowlands”, draws from a lot of 70s rock influences, not surprising considering Reed released his “Lost Chronicles of Heavy Rock” back in 2015 and has covered a slew of classic rock heavy weights through the years from Van Halen to Kiss to Black Sabbath to Jimi Hendrix. One listen to the title track that opens up the album and you’ll find yourself longing to be in a 72 Chevelle cruising down the highway. The overall feel of the album is perfect for any long road trips and/or backyard BBQ continuing a near perfect run of music from this iconic Washington band.