Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching and I’m gearing up by planning a taco bar. Something for everyone: Datil Jerk Blackened Shrimp Tacos With Mango Salsa, Tequila-lime Chicken Tacos, Cilantro, Lime and Jalapeño Marinated Steak Tacos, and Loaded Vegetarian Tacos. Paired with lots of ice cold Mexican beer, and plenty of chips and salsa, these tacos are sure to be a hit with everyone.
We celebrate our Independence Day in the United States on July 4th. As Americans, we mistakenly think of Cinco de Mayo, as the day Mexicans celebrate their Independence.
According to History.com: “Independence Day in Mexico (Día de la Independencia) is commemorated on September 16, the anniversary of the revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s famous “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”), a call to arms that amounted to a declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.” (https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/cinco-de-mayo)
I took some time to look up the history behind Cinco de Mayo, and it is fascinating. During the time of the American Civil War, Mexico was under attack by French forces. Mexico was in debt to France, Spain and Britain, but the country was bankrupt and could not repay their debts. Great Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico, but Napoleon III and his troops invaded with the intent of regaining the money owed to their government, as well as increasing their empire.
On May 5, 1862, at the city of Puebla, with just 2,000 poorly trained men, Ignacio Zaragoza, (interestingly enough a Texan by birth,) defeated the French army. Although short-lived, it was considered a symbolic victory for Mexicans in their quest for independence, and an end to foreign domination. At the end of the Civil War, with assistance from the United States, France finally withdrew from Mexico in 1867.
So why do we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States? Several theories abound: that is was started in Texas, home of Ignacio Zaragoza, and that it was begun by Southern Californians in 1863 to show their solidarity with Mexico. It has also been attributed to President Franklin Roosevelt and his 1933 “Good Neighbor Policy” to improve foreign relations with Central and South America. In 2005, President George W. Bush, celebrated CInco de Mayo in a Rose Garden dinner at the White House. He stated, “The United States and Mexico are united by ties of family, faith in God, and a deep love for freedom.” So, regardless of how it came about in the United States, Cinco de Mayo celebrates all that is good in Mexican heritage and culture.
But who needs a special day to eat tacos, or other wonderful Mexican dishes for that matter? You can put just about anything in a tortilla. There is something sensual about touching your food and eating with your hands. Tortillas are wonderful filled with spicy, meat, seafood or chicken, but they are also perfect pouches for vegetables, either fresh, roasted or grilled. Fry one up and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and a drizzle of honey for a sopapilla. Make an ice cream taco by baking a tortilla over a ball of foil, adding softened ice cream and freezing. Then dip the edges in melted chocolate, refreeze and enjoy a sweet taco treat.
Decisions, decisions, decisions. I know I want to make tacos, and the options are almost endless. Shrimp is my favorite, so let’s start there.
Look for part 2; Tequila Lime Marinated Chicken Tacos for yet another tasty taco option. Coming soon to a blog near you.
OLD ST AUGUSTINE DATIL JERK BLACKENED SHRIMP WITH MANGO SALSA
Make sure you have everything else ready, as the shrimp take only a few minutes to cook, and these are definitely best served hot. To cool off, wash them down with your favorite Mexican beer, or even a Margarita or two! Lemonade with strawberries and chunks of mango would be a nice complement as well.Prep TIme: About 1 hour – time to peel and devein the shrimp and for the shrimp to marinate (Can be done ahead)
BLACKENED SHRIMP INGREDIENTS
- 1 pound fresh shrimp – (21/25#), peeled and deveined
- 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tablespoons Old St Augustine Datil Jerk Seasoning (may substitute another jerk seasoning blend or blackened seasoning)
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 Tablespoons butter (do not substitute margarine)
- 1 lime, sliced into wedges
- 6-8 medium wooden skewers, soaked in water overnight or a minimum of 30 minutes so they do not burn
- 8 small flour or corn tortillas, heated
- lettuce leaves or shredded cabbage
- jalapeño slices
- 1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
- Jest of 1/2 to one lime
- 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon Venom or Snake Bite Datil Pepper Hot Sauce
MANGO SALSA INGREDIENTS
- 1 large or 2 small mangos, peeled and diced
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (Seeded if desired) OR may substitute 4-5 large prepared jalapeño rings from a jar, drained and diced if fresh unavailable
- 8-10 cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1/8 cup orange juice
- Options – (May also add: 1/4 cup diced red onion, 1/2 cucumber peeled and diced, seeds removed, or 1/2 cup diced pineapple, pinch of salt.)
For the Mango Salsa
In a medium size bowl, gently stir together the mango, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro and orange juice. At this time, you may also add in onions, cucumber and/or pineapple if desired.) You may also add in a pinch of salt if desired.
Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
For the Blackened Shrimp
In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Old St Augustine Datil Jerk Seasoning and garlic. Add the shrimp to the bowl and gently stir to completely coat the shrimp with the seasoning mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to marinate, or at least 30 minutes to one hour if you are pressed for time.
Place the skewers in water to cover and let sit at least 30 minutes or overnight to soak.
Thread the shrimp on skewers – medium skewers will only hold 3 to 4 large shrimp. Drizzle the shrimp skewers on both sides with the juice of one half lime.
Over outdoor gas burner, heat well-seasoned cast iron skillet. You cannot get the skillet too hot. Once the skillet is smoking, add 1 Tablespoon of the butter, and swirl around in the pan. Immediately add the shrimp skewers. (The butter may flame up, so be careful!) Cook 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan to distribute the heat.
Add the rest of the butter and flip the skewers. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes until shrimp are cooked through and blackened. Do not overcook.
Place lettuce or shredded cabbage in heated tortillas and top with shrimp. Add desired amount of mango salsa and sliced jalapeños. Drizzle with lime crema or sour cream.
Serve with good friends and laughter!