Popcorn Shrimp Tacos with Coleslaw & Pico de Gallo. When I first saw this recipe in my new favorite cookbook (of the month), St Louis Chef’s Recipes, Volume 2, I flipped right past it. I have just begun my journey eating things that swim, so maybe that is why I gave it no thought. The second time through, I stopped to take a closer look.
I wasn’t convinced popcorn shrimp, coleslaw and pico de gallo flavors would be tasty piled together in a flour tortilla. Would each of these flavors commingling in every bite play nice with each other or would a “Get out of here, I’m the flavor of this dish” fight break out? I wasn’t sure, but was willing to give it a try. I also wasn’t sure I would love a shrimp taco, but I thought it would be delicious made with chicken.
Wow!! This dish is fantastic and I’m so happy I gave it a chance. I made it with chicken and with shrimp and both are delicious. I love the crispy texture of the shrimp and chicken, the lime, the cumin, the crunch, the heat and the sweet. It is like all these flavors and textures came together and shook hands on a great deal.
I had to convince my husband he would like Popcorn Shrimp Soft Tacos w/Coleslaw and Pico de Gallo (goodness, that is a mouthful). He has never liked coleslaw, but he is a trooper and gave it a try. Since he is a history professor I asked him to give the dish a grade. He gave it a “B”. I thought it deserved better so asked for an explanation. He explained it in this way: “I gave it a “B” because I really, really liked it, but it isn’t on my list of all-time favorites like Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Butter, Pot Roast (coming soon), Chicken Fajitas and so many others.” I cried, told him I would lose my scholarship and talked him into a “B+”.
Except for a few minor changes, I followed the recipe exactly. I’m always cautious when it comes to hot peppers, so I cut back on the jalapenos a bit. The dish, as adjusted, was perfect for me but some might want to add the entire tablespoon of jalapenos (or more). Also, the slaw seemed a little soupy, so I made a minor change there. The recipe that follows reflects my changes.
Popcorn Shrimp Tacos with Coleslaw and Pico de Gallo
- 8 small flour tortillas
- For Popcorn Shrimp or Chicken:
- 32 small-medium raw shrimp peeled, deveined and tails removed or
- 2 chicken breasts – cut into 1” bite sized pieces
- 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
- 1 cup flour
- 2 egg whites – beaten
- 1 tablespoon water
- canola or peanut oil
- For Coleslaw:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ½ cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1-2 limes
- 1 tablespoon lime zest approx. 2 limes
- 1½ tablespoons honey
- 1½ tablespoons fresh parsley – finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons fresh cilantro – finely chopped
- 2-3 teaspoons jarred Jalepenos – diced
- 2-3 teaspoons Jalepeno liquid from the jar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ¾ - 1 pound bag shredded coleslaw mix – depending how moist you want coleslaw
- For Pico de Gallo:
- 1½ cups tomatoes – seeded peeled & rough chopped
- 1/3 cup sweet yellow onion or red onion – finely diced
- 1-3 teaspoons jarred jalapeno finely diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro – rough chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice 1-2 limes
- Please read all directions before beginning. Pico de Gallo and Coleslaw need to be
- made 1-4 hours early so flavors can meld in the fridge.
- For the Coleslaw:
- -5 hours beforehand, combine all ingredients except the shredded coleslaw mixture in a large bowl and stir until all ingredients are well mixed.
- Refrigerate the mayonnaise mixture in covered container until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, add the shredded coleslaw mix and blend well.
- For the Pico de Gallo:
- -5 hours beforehand, stir together all ingredients in a medium and refrigerate covered until ready to serve.
- For the Shrimp or Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 200F
- Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet
- Heat oil in a large skillet (preferably cast-iron) over med-high heat – approximately 1/2” deep.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper to have ready once the shrimp/chicken is cooked.
- Place flour, Panko crumbs, salt & pepper in a shallow dish and mix well. Set the dish close to the oil-filled skillet.
- Pace egg white & water in a different shallow dish – beat with a fork until egg whites are foamy. Set this dish next to the right of the dish with the flour mixture.
- Oil is ready when very hot (but not smoking) and around 350F.
- Place shrimp/chicken in the beaten egg whites – be sure to coat evenly.
- Shake off excess egg white mixture, then place in the flour mixture – both sides and press down gently.
- Carefully place shrimp/chicken in the oil – make sure the shrimp/chicken can move freely around – do not overcrowd.
- Once the shrimp/chicken is nicely browned on the bottom, turn it over and cook until golden brown on the other side. For shrimp it should be 2-3 minutes per side. For chicken 3-4 minutes per side.
- Remove the shrimp/chicken with tongs or slotted spoon and place on the lined baking sheet.
- Place in the oven to keep it warm.
- When ready to serve:
- Remove pre-made mayonnaise mixture from the fridge then add the bagged shredded coleslaw and mix well.
- Remove Pico de Gallo from fridge.
- Place 3-4 shrimp/chicken pieces in the middle of each tortilla.
- Place a spoonful of coleslaw then Pico de Gallo on top.
- Serve with a side of Mexican rice and/or beans, chips & salsa.