There used to be a time where my very first reaction to anything from the sea – other than canned tuna – was "YUCK!"
Growing up with a dad who's father/daughter time included early morning pier fishing, you'd think I'd have acquired a taste for seafood as a youngster. But I didn't. No, what I loved was the father/daughter time: Dad would take turns taking one of us three girls out (sisters 4 and 5 came later). He'd pack breakfast for us and I remember feeling so grown up because I got my very own thermos of hot chocolate. Then we'd head out before the sun came up while the rest of the house was still asleep.
Other times it was a family affair and the whole lot of us would pile into the station wagon, each of us girls with our own fishing poles and we'd head to Mission Bay to fish and picnic.
But even if we caught anything, us girls would never eat it. Any caught fish was for mom and dad. Especially after we'd catch a glimpse of dad cleaning the fish. The thought of eating it after seeing its life-force all over the chopping block dad used was just not something I'd easily forget. Nope. Us girls would have hamburgers or hot dogs on fish night.
Fast forward to college where by the time I made it to the cafeteria for lunch, all that was usually left was tuna salad. Luckily, this was something I was familiar with.
It came in a can.
I never saw it whole.
And best yet, it had a texture like chicken salad and not that opaque look of "real" fish. So tuna became a college staple.
Then in my early 30s, my best friend and I discovered The Marine Room in La Jolla. It was much too out of our price range for causal dining but for quite some time, it did became our to-go-to place for birthdays. The first time we went, Dan ordered surf and turf. I ordered just the "turf." He coaxed me into taking a bite of his lobster tail. Prepared to be completely grossed out, I held my breath and went for it.
It was like nothing I'd ever had before. What was this? Why hadn't I had it before? The next birthday there, I ordered surf and turf too.
Next came my introduction to fish tacos. For a community known for them, it's a shame I waited until my mid-30s to try them. Again, it was because of Dan. He took me to happy hour at The Brigantine, a local seafood restaurant chain. They had $1.99 fish tacos on the bar menu. Crispy beer battered, they were over filled with cabbage, salsas, some kind of dressing reminiscent of thousand island dressing that the fish was all but camouflaged. And I loved them. A few months later, I started up on fish tacos from Rubio's which highlight the fish much more than the toppings and now enjoy them every lenten season.
Shrimp came only recently. About five years ago or so, a friend of mine made grilled shrimp during an impromptu weekend gathering and they were so delicious. I'd tried shrimp before and had not become a fan of it all. But Lisa's tequila-lime grilled shrimp was so flavorful my tummy forgot that my head said 'we don't like shrimp.'
To be honest, there are still ways I won't eat shrimp. I will not eat it in pasta sauce. I do not like it cold with cocktail sauce. I do not like it scampi. And forget about serving it to me the day after it's been grilled. Ew. Shudder.
The main players: 16 medium to large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails on, Mexican Oregano, limes, garlic, cilantro and not pictured but nonetheless IMPORTANTE! -- tequila.
Make the marinade: Add the olive oil, tequila, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, chili powders and oregano into a small bowl.
Marinate: Place the shrimp into a resealable baggie and pour in the marinade. Place in refrigerator and let it sit around and get happy for about 30 minutes.
Skewer me baby! Thread the shrimp onto bamboo skewers that have soaked in water for at least 30 minutes beforehand.
Grill: Place on a hot grill and cook for 3 minutes on each side or until shrimp is pink and opaque.
Tequila Lime and Cilantro Grilled Shrimp
serves 2 for dinner or 4 as an appetizer
- 16 medium to large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails on
- 1 1/2 oz of tequila
- juice of 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon California chile powder
- 1 tablespoon New Mexico chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon whole mexican oregano
- 4 wooden bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- Place shrimp in a large ziplock bag. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, add the next eight ingredients. Place the oregano in the palm of your hand. Rub hands together over bowl to crush leaves and flower buds. This releases the essential oils from the oregano. Use a whisk to combine well. Add to shrimp. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Heat grill to hot (450˚F).
- Thread 4 shrimp onto a skewer. Continue until all shrimp is threaded. Place on grill and cook for 3 minutes with lid open. Carefully flip shrimp using tongs. Cook for 3 minutes on this side or until shrimp is bright pink and opaque. Remove and serve immediately.
- Recipe can easily be doubled.
YOUR TURN: Are there any foods that you absolutely hated as a kid but love now?
Until next time,