One of my favorite restaurants is Z’Tejas in Austin, Texas. Perhaps I love it so much because I see so many friendly faces there. Several friends have worked there through the years. Including my friend Clay who sometimes works the bar and my BFF Brent who was a waiter there at one point. The list goes on and on, but the point is … I love those shrimp bites. When I told Nate about them, he said well… that sounds simple enough, let’s make them. I said, “No. Let’s drive to Austin and order them!” He won, I lost. We make a version of them at home now and they are divine. The only thing missing is the jalapeno margarita I usually order with them!
You will notice in our pictures that we made blue corn chips instead of using the bag variety. Here’s a secret – I like the bag chips the best. Sorry Nate. I know you have special blue corn masa and you appreciate all things hand-made. I will also say to those of you who aren’t that crazy about cilantro – this may not be the dish for you. You could try leaving the cilantro out of the guacamole and using less in the marinade. Personally, I could eat it straight up! In fact, when I was in college my friend Lisa made a salad entirely out of cilantro after telling me, “I don’t know what kind of lettuce this is, but it’s small and really green.” We were lost chickens in the kitchen back then. She’s come a long way. Me – not so much.
Here’s the recipe we use when I get a hankerin’ for a shrimp bite that’s six hours away!
Blue Corn Chipotle Shrimp Bites
24 Blue Corn Chips (hand-made or from a bag)
Chipotle in Adobo Sauce Canned
Guacamole (recipe follows)
Cilantro Pesto (recipe follows)
1 lb. of Raw Shrimp peeled and deveined (26-30 Count)
6 ripe avocados
2 limes, juiced
1 lemon juiced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles chopped
1 Roma Tomato Diced
1 big handful fresh cilantro with stems, about 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Halve and pit the avocados. With a tablespoon, scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados using either a fork or potato masher, leaving them still a bit chunky. Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together. Drizzle with a little olive oil, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and give it 1 final mix with a fork.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
Cilantro Pesto Recipe:
1 Bunch of cilantro, large stems removed
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon chopped and seeded serrano chile
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, almonds, onion, chile, and salt until blended. With the food processor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream.
Add more oil as needed for your use.
Makes about 1 cup.
Whatever you don’t use, you can freeze.
To assemble the Shrimp Bites:
- Add shrimp to pesto
- Make sure you use enough pesto to coat the shrimp evenly
- Marinate shrimp in pesto for at least one hour – overnight is best.
- Skewer shrimp and grill for two minutes, flip over and grill until pink (you can also sauté shrimp in a pan on the stove until pink if you don’t have a grill)
- Place one teaspoon of guacamole on each blue corn chip
- Place one shrimp on top of the guacamole
- Add a small amount of Chipotle in Adobo Sauce – add more if you like it hot!