Crispy taco filling:
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ medium white onion, cut into ¼-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Hot green chiles to taste (2 to 3 serranos, 1 to 2 jalapeños), stemmed, seeded (if you like) and finely chopped (1 red jalapeño and 2-3 sweet baby peppers)
12 ounces (2 medium-small round (Campari) red-ripe tomatoes, grated through the coarse holes of a grater or diced or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly drained and pureed in a blender or food processor
8 ounces peeled-and-deveined shrimp, cut into ½-inch pieces or smaller
2 to 3 packed tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Oil to a depth of 2 inches, for frying
12 thin, factory-made corn tortillas
1. Prepare the flavoring. In a large (10-inch) skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes, then add the garlic and chiles, and cook 1 minute more. Add the tomato and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until as thick as ketchup. Stir in the shrimp, cook for 1 minute, remove from the heat and cool. Stir in the cilantro, then taste and season with salt, usually about ¼ teaspoon.
2. Roll and fry the tacos. Heat the oil to 360 degrees. Holding two tortillas at a time with a pair of tongs, submerge them in the hot oil for a few seconds just to soften them. (This softening can also be done by spraying the tortillas with oil and quickly heating in the oven, as described on page 197.) Pat both sides of each tortilla dry on paper towels and collect into a single stack. Spoon a scant 3 tablespoons of filling in a line across the top tortilla, then roll up tightly. Continue making tacos, skewering them by twos, flaps together, on small skewers or large toothpicks. If time allows, refrigerate for easier handling. When you’re ready to serve, fry the tacos in the hot oil until crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve as casual finger food with guacamole or salsa, or go all the way to a beautifully plated appetizer, dousing the tacos with Tomato Broth and topping with Pickled Vegetables.
12 ounces (2 medium-small round) red-ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped OR 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly drained ½ small white onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken, fish or shellfish broth
Salt to taste
1. Make the tomato broth. In a blender, puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl. Heat the oil in a medium (3-quart) saucepan over medium-high. When hot enough to make a drop of the puree sizzle sharply, add it all at once. Stir until noticeably darker and thicker, about 5 minutes. Add the broth. When the mixture comes to a boil, partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes over medium-low. If necessary add more broth (or water) to give the mixture a soupy consistency. Taste and season with salt, usually about ½ teaspoon.