California Inspired Shrimp Tacos + Date Shakes

Two of the first things I did when I got back from California were pick up a copy of Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic and buy a big box of medjool dates. This about sums up my experience in Southern California last month. I keep telling people that I spent most of my time there driving around, or more often sitting in traffic, and wondering why on earth people lived there only to turn a corner and think “well this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.” I still don’t think I would make that compromise, but, if I did, it would be food tilting the balance in California’s favor.


The two stand out meals of my trip were a date milk shake, which I detoured solidly out of my way to pick up on my drive between San Diego and Los Angeles, and shrimp tacos, the mention or which may or may not have determined which Air B and B room I booked in LA. After the milk shake, I texted Robin to say, “Delicious but I have some ideas about how to improve this…mainly more dates, more booze.” After the tacos, I texted Noah to say, “We need to be eating more shrimp tacos.”

Last Sunday, in honor of the Oscars, we invited some friends over and got to work on both of these ideas. With some advice from around the internet (mainly here and here), I came up with a shrimp taco recipe that I love. I sent Noah out for a bottle of cognac, and, during a commercial break, I blended dates and ice cream together, stirred in some cognac, and poured the mixture in to responsibly small glasses. We toasted to living somewhere without constant gridlock.


Note: As I was working on this post, Sprouted Kitchen posted their own date shake recipe. It looks awesome so if you’re looking for a date shake that includes protein powder instead of cognac, head on over there. 


Shrimp Tacos with Red Cabbage Salad: (Makes about 12 tacos) 

For Shrimp:

– 1 lb frozen shrimp

– 1 teaspoon chili powder

– 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

– 3 garlic cloves

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 tablespoon olive oil + more for sautéing shrimp

For Red Cabbage Salad:

– 1/2 a small-ish head of red cabbage sliced as thinly as you can

– 1/2 of a small red onion thinly sliced

– 1/4 cup rice vinegar

– 1 tablespoon brown sugar

– 2 tablespoons canola oil

– Salt and Peper to taste

For the Rest of the Tacos:

– 5 or so thinly sliced radishes

– 2 sliced avocados

– 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

– 2 quartered limes

– Sour cream

– About a 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco

– 12 corn tortillas

* About an hour or two ahead of time defrost shrimp in a bowl of cold water and a few tablespoons of salt stirred in.

* When ready to cook, peel shrimp.

* Toss shrimp with cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic, salt and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Let sit in refrigerator for half an hour.

*  Meanwhile, toss all the red cabbage salad ingredients together and let sit so that the cabbage softens in the dressing a bit. 

* Slice radishes, clean and pluck cilantro leaves, crumble queso fresco, quarter limes.

* Warm corn tortillas in oven set at 350 (takes about 5-10 minutes).

* Warm a small glug of olive oil in a pan. Add shrimp and saute flipping occasionally until they are pink and cooked through (3-4 minutes).

* Assemble tacos with warm shrimp, red cabbage salad, and whatever combination of radishes, cilantro leaves, cheese, sour cream, and avocado you like. Finish with a squeeze of lime.


Boozy Date Shakes: 

– 4 cups vanilla ice cream

– 10 medjool dates, pitted

– 1 cup milk

– 1/4 cup cognac

* Blend all ingredients but cognac until your shake is the consistency you want.

* Stir in cognac.


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