Serious Eats: Recipes

The Secret Ingredient (Key Lime): Key Lime Shrimp Tacos

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

Key limes were brought to the States by Spanish explorers, and the limes continued to entrench themselves in the tropics and subtropics of the New World, including South Florida and its famed Keys—and my backyard, where we had a key lime tree until a citrus blight in the 1990s.

As I wrote last week, key limes are smaller, paler, yellower, and more acidic than the standard lime. Hence, their taste is incomparable. So incomparable, in fact, that according to Wikipedia, in 1965 a state representative proposed a $100 fine on anyone selling key lime pie (the state pie, of course) made using any lime other than key limes. It didn't pass, but I do think that selling key lime anything that does not quickly impart that distinct acidic sweetness—almost a vanilla tinge—is selling under false pretenses!

These light shrimp tacos are key lime and Florida through and through. Thanks to large Hispanic and Caribbean populations, our grocery stores are stocked with really fantastic ingredients like authentic corn taco tortillas, Mexican cheeses, tropical fruits. And, of course, key limes. These tacos begin with large shrimp (use the pink ones harvested from the Florida Keys for an authentic Florida recipe) marinated in key lime juice, and then grilled to a quick char with garlic.

A chunky salsa made from key limes, mango, avocado, and jalapenos adds flavor, heft, and a distinct bite. Crema made from key lime juice and zest and sour cream adds acidity and heat-reduction. Wrap it all together with shredded green cabbage and a small, warm flour tortilla, and the taco is light and fresh, with that distinctive sweet key lime acidity, and a taste of the most southern of States.


About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the French in a Flash series for Serious Eats.

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