The One Where Fish Tacos in Loreto are Coconut Shrimp Tacos at Home

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Coconut Shrimp Tacos

As a Californian, few bites of food make me happier than Fish Tacos from Mexico’s Baja. Even when those fish tacos are a Caribbean/Mexican cultural mashup of Coconut Shrimp Tacos inspired by two separate travel memories.

Baja Fish Tacos

As with all the best dishes, there’s some debate about the origin and specifics of fish tacos.

As for their Mexican origin, the city of Ensenada and the town of San Felipe both claim their version as the original. Both also seem to have the facts to prove it. Ensenada insists we credit their Japanese migrants for the crispy tempura-style batter they prefer, and San Felipe residents believe a mustardy beer batter is better suited to the local climate and should, therefore, take precedence. Ensenada serves the fish in corn tortillas exclusively, San Felipe lets you choose corn or flour.

Here in taco-mad Los Angeles, you’re just as likely to see a California-style grilled version. My point is when it comes to Fish Tacos I’m hardly bound by local loyalties. Still, I like what I like and I like these Caribbean-inspired Coconut Shrimp Tacos just as much as the Baja Fish Tacos Ensenada and San Felipe bicker about.

Coconut Shrimp Tacos

While I’m mashing up cuisines I might as well conflate my travel memories too. You see I’ve just returned from Loreto, Mexico. This is my second trip to the Southern Baja town in 2019. So it’s safe to say I like it there. Besides its proximity to Los Angeles (1 hrs 38 mins via airplane), one of the things I like best about the place is the casual approach to food. Most especially tacos. Loreto is a town where you’ll find tempura-style tacos at one restaurant and beer batter tacos at another. It’s the only place this Ensenada-initiated taco lover will order flour tortillas with no humiliation.

On my first trip to Loreto in January I discovered a small bar on the main street of town with a difficult to pronounce name – Tlalocan. I liked the friendly owner/bartender Carlos very much so Ken and I made Tlalocan an everyday stop while we were there. Sure, Carlos makes a great Margarita but he also has a secret taco menu. On this menu there’s an unusual Coconut Shrimp Taco that’s just sweet enough. In a town like Loreto where most of the fish tacos are one or the other of the two styles I mentioned, Tlalocan’s creative take on my favorite street food stands out. Besides I’ve spent enough time in the Caribbean to have a soft spot for Coconut Shrimp deep-fried to a robust crunch.

Sadly, on this last trip to Loreto over Easter and Passover Tlalocan wasn’t open. We checked in dutifully every afternoon, but it remained quite closed. Then on our last full day in town Carlos had returned and Tlalocan was open. But his cook was still out. So no Coconut Shrimp Tacos.

Naturally I came home and got to work on recreating those tacos for myself. Wouldn’t you? GREG

Coconut Shrimp Tacos

Coconut Shrimp Tacos

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 3-4Published
Coconut Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup pank breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ pound medium shrimp (peeled and deveined with tails removed)
  • salt and pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 4-6 cup vegetable oil (depending on pan size)
  • 8-10 warm (4 to 6-inch) tortillas
  • 2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup Mexican crema (you can subtitute sour cream thinned with a small amount of milk)
  • lime wedges (as needed)

Directions

Mix coconut and breadcrumbs together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and sugar together in a separate medium bowl. Set aside.

Season shrimp with salt and pepper on both sides. Working in batches, dip shrimp in the egg mixture to coat completely; lift (shaking off any excess), and dredge in coconut mixture. Lay on a baking sheet.

In a large, deep heavy-bottom pan, heat oil over medium heat until 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer. Cook half the shrimp, lightly shaking to separate shrimp, turning as needed until golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer shrimp to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 350 degrees; repeat with remaining shrimp.

To serve, fill the tortillas with your desired number of shrimp, then top generously with shredded red cabbage, crema, and a squeeze of lime juice. Serve immediately.