If you read the Stone Brewing Blog (and, as a beer lover, you should read it!), you saw the post about the Stone Tangerine Express IPA Fish Tacos. As someone who once lived in Southern California and developed an appreciation for both fish tacos and Stone beer, I knew this was a recipe I was going to have to try, but I added my own Maine twist to it. The end result was something I wanted to share with you.
Maine Shrimp – What’s the Big Deal?
Maine shrimp–commonly called northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis)–are a much anticipated specialty here in Maine. Chefs covet them during the short winter season, seafood lovers crave their sweetness, and the Maine fishing industry traditionally relies on the income. Unfortunately, the Atlantic States Marine Commission extended the three-year moratorium on commercial fishing to the the 2017 fishing season. The State of Maine Department of Marine Resources (DMR) wrote in a statement:
Recruitment of northern shrimp is related to both spawning biomass and ocean temperatures, with higher spawning biomass and colder temperatures producing stronger recruitment. Ocean temperatures in western [Gulf of Maine] shrimp habitat have increased over the past decade and reached unprecedented highs within the past several years. This suggests an increasingly inhospitable environment for northern shrimp and the need for strong conservation efforts to help restore and maintain a fishable stock. The Northern Shrimp Technical Committee considers the stock to be in poor condition with limited prospects for the near future.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that this season, regulators increased what’s known as the “research set aside” or RSA, which allows limited harvest for the continued collection of much needed biological data. Eight Maine trawlers were allowed one trip per week from mid-January through mid-March, and one happens to be based just down the road from me in Port Clyde.
So for the last several weeks, Saturday mornings, despite some bitter cold, saw me driving down the peninsula to Port Clyde Fresh Catch to purchase shrimp landed less than 24 hours previous. Given the freshness, Saturday nights are all about sushi and ceviche, but I always buy enough Maine Shrimp to last for a few days. While I generally prefer not to do too much to Maine shrimp in the kitchen, as they are so sweet and delicious as is, this season I have fallen into the habit of setting aside a half-a-pound or so each week for Baja tacos, and my new favorite batter is Stone’s Tangerine Express IPA batter!
My Twist on the Stone Recipe
The quintessential Baja taco is a simple creation consisting of lightly battered fish, a cabbage slaw, salsa, and a cream sauce (crema) inside a corn tortilla. Oh, and don’t forget the lime and avocado on the side! The Stone Tangerine Express IPA Fish Tacos stay pretty true to that formula, although there is no mention of a cream sauce (mayo is added to their slaw instead), and pico de gallo is added served on the side. The crux, however, is the batter, which is 1 part all-purpose flour, 1 part rice-flour and 2 parts Stone Tangerine Express IPA. Added to that mixture, the Stone recipe calls for a pinch of Kosher salt and cayenne pepper. Whisk it up to a light, fluffy consistency, and you’re on your way to heaven!
While I have not changed a thing about the batter when making my Stone Tangerine Express Maine Shrimp Tacos (and yes, you do really need the rice flour!), I do tend to fall back on my house recipe for the salsa, slaw and crema.
For my shrimp tacos, I keep my salsa simple with freshly diced tomato, minced red onion, the other half of the minced and seeded jalapeño from the slaw, and some minced garlic.
Cabbage & Cilantro Slaw
For my slaw, I generally ask the produce guy at the market to cut in half one small red and one small green cabbage, as I prefer the aesthetics of the two colors (I am an artist after all!). I finely shred the cabbage and toss it with a handful of freshly chopped cilantro. I then add the juice from a lime, half a minced (seeded!) jalapeño, and my secret ingredient: a splash of Maine Made Royal Rose Three Chile Simple Syrup! For my Stone Tangerine Express Maine Shrimp Tacos I’ve also been adding a hint of tangerine zest. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and a pich of Salt Cellar Jalapeño Pepper Sea Salt (which you can pick-up at their Portland, Maine location or hyper-locally at Fiore Artisan Olive Oils & Vinegars right here in Rockland, Maine).
For my crema, I like to keep it light but interesting. I work with a ratio of 2 parts sour cream to 1 part mayo with a quarter of a lime squeezed in. I then blend in some lime zest, cumin and adobo sauce. Voila!
For the Maine shrimp, I peel them and season with salt, pepper and a wee bit of tangerine zest (make sure to keep the shrimp heads, tails and shells for stock!). I then coat the shrimp in the batter and fry them up.
To build the tacos, I take a warm corn tortilla and place it in a taco stand. I then add the shrimp, the salsa, the slaw, and the crema in that order. Garnish with some cilantro, a lime wedge and some thinly sliced avocado, and enjoy with an Stone Tangerine Express IPA in an Angler’s Pint!