Crab Tacos with Jicama “Tortillas”

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Crab Tacos with Jicama "Tortillas"

It’s summer in North America. What summer foods come to mind? Watermelon? Popsicles? Burgers? For me it’s tacos. Especially seafood tacos. Fish Tacos. Shrimp Tacos and lately – Crab Tacos! I first recall eating fish tacos in the early-’90s in Baja, Mexico. We were strolling the back streets of Rosarito Beach when we stumbled onto a crowd of happy locals gathered around the back window of a small building. The unmistakeable aroma of fried fish lured us in. After a short wait in line we found ourselves enjoying the catch of the day wrapped in corn tortillas, topped with a bit of lime juice, cilantro and not much more. It’s hard to find fried fish tacos that good anywhere but Baja. Still, I continue my search – in fact I’d call it a passion.

Typically I like my fish tacos fresh fried, topped with cabbage, crema and some handmade salsa (just as hot as I can stand it). Ricky’s Taco Truck comes as close to Baja perfection as I’ve ever found in Los Angeles. They’re so good that I don’t even attempt to make fried fish tacos at home. However, I’m constantly looking for other creative versions and new ways to fuel my desire to have constant access to the taco flavors of my favorite season. I’ve tried Mushroom Tacos, Pan-Fried Catfish Tacos, and even Tempeh Tacos. I’ve topped them with flavorful salsa that runs the gamut from spicy ghost pepper to sweet papaya.

Wine Pairing

Santola "Crab Wine" Vinho Verde

Caves Messias Santola "Crab Wine" Vinho Verde
Sometimes it’s OK to take the easy way out. Greg asked me to choose a wine to go with his Jicama Crab Tacos and I just happened to have a bottle or two of crab wine chilling in the wine fridge. Done! Sporting a big red crab on the label, it’s a Vinho Verde called […]
Ken Eskenazi

Price $9

Pairs well with shellfish, salads, fish, Mexican food, or on it’s own as an aperitif

These are all great ideas, but I recently noticed that all my taco trials focused on what I could pile on top or slip inside a tortilla.

Maybe the next task in my taco tests should be the tortilla itself. In fact why does the wrapper need to be a tortilla at all? I could shake up crab tacos by serving them inside jicama “tortillas”.

Crab Tacos on Jicama “Tortillas”

I was very excited by the idea. Naturally I Googled around and came across several recipes for Crab Tacos that were served inside a jicama tortilla shell.

I soon found problems with most of the recipes for Jicama “Tortillas” that I came across. The thing about jicama is it’s quite crisp. Even when sliced into thin rounds, jicama doesn’t bow in quite the right way. I know because I tried and soon had to clean Crab Tacos off the floor. You see jicama doesn’t bend, it snaps.

So I needed a way to get the jicama pliable enough to be a suitable stand-in for the tortillas in these crab tacos.

The answer is pickling. I quick pickled jicama slices and added a pinch of turmeric to the brine. Which had the additional benefit of coloring these Pickled Jicama “Tortillas” the same golden hue as traditional corn tortillas – win/win! GREG

Caves Messias Santola "Crab Wine" Vinho Verde. Crab Tacos with Jicama "Tortillas"Crab Tacos with Jicama "Tortillas"

Crab Tacos with Pickled Jicama “Tortillas”

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I’ve used pickled jicama slices as tortillas but you may serve the crab salad on corn or flour tortillas if you prefer.

Crab Salad Taco with Pickled Jicama "Tortillas"

Ingredients

  • 1 jicama (at least 4" in diameter)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ pound lump crab meat
  • ½ cup tiny diced mango
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon thinly sliced green onion
  • 3 teaspoon thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • ½ teaspoon pico de gallo powder (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 16 whole fresh mint leaves (as garnish)
  • 16 lime wedges (for serving)

Directions

Make the jicama “tortillas”: Halve the jicama and make 16 very thin center cut slices. A mandoline is very helpful for getting thin, uniform slices. Use a 3 ½″ round cutter to cut each of the slices into uniformly sized rounds. Place the rounds in a shallow, heatproof bowl. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, stir the apple cider vinegar, water, salt, sugar and turmeric until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place the pan over high heat and bring the brine to a boil.

Pour the brine over the jicama slices, making sure some liquid gets between all the slices. Set aside to come to room temperature.

Make the crab salad: Place the crab meat, diced mango, rice vinegar, thinly sliced green onion, thinly sliced mint, and ½ teaspoon pico de gallo powder in a medium bowl. Gently fold the mixture together until well incorporated, taking care to keep the lump crab meat from breaking up too much.

Make the tacos: Drain the pickled jicama slices and gently pat them dry with paper towels. Lay the slices onto a serving platter and divide the crab salad equally between each of the slices. Garnish the taco with a sprinkle of pico de gallo powder and a mint leaf. Serve with lime wedges on the side.