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Garlic Shrimp Tacos (Inspired by Surf Taco)

Preparation 00:25 Cook Time 00:02 Total Time 0:27
Serves 4     adjust servings

These flavorful tacos are inspired by the Jersey shore's own Surf Taco restaurants, where I order the original version practically once a week. The homemade ones are even fresher and more flavorful. Hope you love them. (Links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links. If you click through and buy something, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale, which I’ll use to help keep Umami Girl bringing you gestalt and pepper on the regular. Thank you for your support!)


For the shrimp

  • 1 pound small to medium wild shrimp (see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few good grinds black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil for sauteeing

For the slaw

  • 1/4 small green cabbage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

For the cilantro sauce

  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the pico de gallo

  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

To serve

  • 8 taco-sized soft flour tortillas


First, marinate the shrimp. Place peeled, cleaned, defrosted shrimp in a medium bowl and toss together with olive oil, garlic, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Let sit while you prepare the other elements of the tacos.

Start the cabbage next so it has a chance to marry with the salt and lime juice before serving. Cut a small green cabbage in half from the top through the core, then cut one of the halves into quarters in the same way. Remove the core from one quarter and very thinly slice the cabbage. (Reserve the rest of the cabbage for another use.) Place in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and lime juice. Toss with your hands, rubbing a bit to help the salt and lime juice tenderize the cabbage.

To make the cilantro sauce, mince the garlic and then use the side of a chef's knife to smash the salt and garlic together into a paste. In a small bowl stir together the mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic-salt paste and pepper. When well combined, gently stir in the chopped cilantro.

To make the pico de gallo, stir together the tomatoes, red onion, salt, pepper and olive oil in a small bowl.

Heat the tablespoon of safflower oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook until opaque, about one minute per side.

Bring ingredients to the table and let everyone assemble their own tacos, or plate by filling each tortilla with some shrimp, cabbage, pico de gallo and a drizzle of cilantro sauce.


Recipe Notes

This is a perfect place to use smaller shrimp (small or medium are great) because they're actually easier to tuck into a taco. I buy peeled and cleaned wild shrimp from the Whole Foods freezer section and defrost them before marinating.

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