Things have been pretty cerebral in Opera Girl land these days. I’ve spent much of the last week happily buried in an opera score, occasionally coming up for air to communicate with the outside world. What can I say, I’ve been thoroughly seduced by an amazing role — Aphrodite, Goddess of love (well, lust is more like it, but I’m keeping things PG here on the blog).
It’s a joy and a privilege to be involved in the premiere of Troilus and Achilles, a 1-hour opera/oratorio (operatorio?) by my former SFCM classmate, Elliott James Encarnación. The more I dig into the piece, the more things I find to love about it. With a carefully crafted libretto, lyrical, tonal vocal lines, and a chamber ensemble that includes french horn and harp . . . well, I’m pretty much in heaven.
We’ll be giving the first performance on May 14th, piano/vocal scores still in hand — with only three weeks to put the project together, there simply isn’t enough time for us mere mortals to manage a fully-realized production this time around. Happily, we’ll be performing the piece again come late summer, off-book and in much less of a hurry.
And so, as you might imagine, not much has been happening in the kitchen around here lately. When pressed for time, I tend toward convenience rather than creativity, throwing together simple and rather uninspired meals.
Today, I decided to get out of my culinary rut. I let my mind wander in a foodie reverie on the bus ride home from the gym this afternoon, thinking about what ingredients I had in the fridge. Not a whole lot, save some defrosting shrimp, along with a few corn tortillas. Shrimp tacos it would be. And so, I stopped by a bodega near my apartment, picking up an avocado, a mango, bunches of radishes, green onions and cilantro, and a bulb of garlic.
Ideal for a dinner and leftovers for one or a romantic meal for two, this recipe comes together in a cool 20 minutes. While your corn tortillas warm in the oven, thinly-sliced cloves of garlic infuse a couple tablespoons of olive oil with mellow sweetness. Meanwhile, a little bit of chopping makes short work of the sweet-and-savory mango salsa and garnishes of thinly-sliced radish and bell pepper. Next, it’s time to crank up the heat on your now garlic-infused olive oil, which is ready to poach the shrimp.
Finally, when the shrimp are just cooked through, corn tortillas emerge from the oven warm and pliant, ready to be topped with the shrimp, salsa, and crunchy garnishes. Et voila, dinner is served.
Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa
4 corn tortillas, wrapped in aluminum foil
1/2 large mango, diced into 1/4″ pieces (about 1 cup)
1 medium avocado, diced into 1/4″ pieces (about 2/3 cup)
juice of a 1/2 lime (about 1 Tbsp)
4 sprigs cilantro, chiffonaded (set aside a few leaves for garnish)
1 green onion, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 radish, halved and sliced thinly
1 mini bell pepper, halved and sliced thinly
1. Set your oven to its lowest setting (“keep warm” or 200F) and place the foil-wrapped tortillas on the middle rack.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine the ingredients for the salsa. Set aside.
3. In a small (8″) skillet, heat the olive oil and sliced garlic over low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Turn the heat up to medium, and when the garlic just begins to bubble, add the shrimp in a single layer. Cover the skillet, letting the shrimp cook for five minutes.
5. Check the shrimp for doneness — they should be pink all the way through. If they are still slightly gray in the middle, cover and let cook for another minute or two.
6. When the shrimp are cooked through, remove the tortillas from the oven and place them on plates. Dish out 1/2 of the shrimp onto each plate in piles on top of the tortillas. Spoon about 1/4 C. of salsa onto each serving of shrimp.
7. Garnish with sliced radish, bell pepper, and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.