Deep Fried Shrimp Tacos with a Papaya-Pomegranate Slaw and a Peanut Dressing
This vibrant recipe came out of a Mystery Box Challenge I did for fun on my snapchat. If you guys watch MasterChef (which if you are a foodie and love reality-tv competitions like me, then you are most certainly familiar with) then you know that mastering this pressure test is indeed a great feat of creative thinking, time management, technical skills, and acute focus.
The premise of the Mystery Box is that the contestants must create a restaurant quality dish in under 60 minutes with only the ingredients underneath the box and select pantry necessities (flour, eggs, sugar, lemons, spices, etc). Unlike in other shows such as Chopped, contestants may use as little or as many ingredients.
I wanted to see what I was capable of doing in the kitchen. I’ve been cooking for years now, and I’ve tried my hands at a number of dishes but I wanted to see if I was truly up to the mark. And so I had my sister create a box for me. I told her to make sure to put things that could potentially pair well in all different combinations of sweet, salty, sour, savoury. Well, this is the box that she came up with –
It’s by no means a nightmare, but I can’t lie – the cereal did throw me off.
I was filming this on snap (I have a penchant for being attention-seeking on camera) and my friends were watching as each snap came in. I had to deliver. And so it began. I got my knife ready. The timer started. I can be quite neurotic in the kitchen. Nobody should get in my way or tell me what to do. Let me do my thing.
I decided to make shrimp tacos. And boy was it a smart choice. Much to my delight, Honey Bunches of Oats Cereal works amazing as a crunchy topping for shrimp! To counter the sweetness of the cereal, I added a little bit of turmeric and chilli powder to the mix, then coated the shrimp in egg wash and then the cereal.
The cabbage and papaya are crunchy and pair well together. The pomegranate gives a lovely deep red color and sweetness to the slaw. I then seasoned the slaw with a simply citrus dressing with orange, red chili, salt, and sugar.
I struggled a little bit during the challenge with the dressing. The original plan was to make a peanut flavored aioli. But of course, my aioli was not thickening up and with 5 minutes remaining, I poured in some cornstarch which of course made a gunky mess. I threw it out, started over with some peanut butter, oil, lime juice and that made a killer dressing.
I also made home-made tortillas. This challenge was the first time making them, and I was not aware that they consisted of a little bit of baking powder. Additionally, I should have made them less thick. So they came out a little dense. But you live and you learn from your mistakes. Next time, they’ll come out perfectly thin, soft, and pliable.
Sometimes the best dishes come from random ingredients from your fridge and the inner-workings of your mind. The deep-fried shrimp is crunchy and flavorful. The slaw adds an extra crunch and sweet and citrusy. The peanut dressing with lime adds extra flavour. All in all, this is an awesome taco that is sure to please!
My passion for cooking started off in my teen years in which I spent an exorbitant amount of time watching youtube cooking videos, Food Network shows, and trying out any and every recipe that striked my fancy. Like most 20-something millennials, I live and breathe foodie culture. The hip low-light photography, the pinterest posts, the mini tastemade videos, the in-depth restaurant reviews…give me all of it! It is indeed a world of possibility, innovation, and sensationalism, but you can always find appreciation for truly amazing food and its humble roots.