Acapulco Shrimp Taco (Toloache Taqueria, NYC)
Julian Medina adds a creamy coating to his Pacific Coast-style shrimp.
Credit: Photograph by Nick Ferrari

Julian Medina grew up in Mexico City but came up through the culinary ranks in New York City under Richard Sandoval at Maya. Now, with his own mini empire of six restaurants throughout Manhattan, Medina gets to showcase the flavors and food memories that inspire him. Among his signature dishes is this far-from-traditional version of the Acapulco-style shrimp tacos from his childhood. "I remember being on vacation with my parents, eating these on the beach with a fresh corn tortilla," he says. Medina's version is a chili-sauced shrimp, with hearts-of-palm pico de gallo, and a spicy tamarind hot sauce. "It's just so many different flavors and textures in one bite."

• 1 cup tamarind paste
• 1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp sherry (or white wine) vinegar
• 2 cups, plus 2 tbsp canola oil
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp sambal oelek red chili paste (or any red chili paste)
• 1 lb canned hearts of palm, diced
• 2 tomatoes (1 diced, 1 quartered)
• 1 red onion, diced
• 1 cup cilantro (1/2 chopped)
• 2 tbsp lime juice
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 tbsp onion, chopped
• Kosher salt
• 1 serrano chili
• 5 garlic cloves (1 whole, 4 minced)
• 1 canned chipotle pepper
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, deveined and quartered
• 1 cup Chihuahua cheese, shredded
• 12 tortillas

Step one
For hot sauce, blend tamarind paste, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 2 cups canola oil, water, honey, sambal oelek. Salt to taste.

Step two
For pico de gallo, combine hearts of palm, diced tomato, diced red onion, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp vinegar, olive oil. Salt to taste.

Step three
For tomato-chipotle salsa, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a roasting pan, place quartered tomato, chopped onion, serrano, garlic clove, and vegetable oil. Season with salt, cover with foil, roast 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add 1/2 cup cilantro, chipotle, and 1 tbsp vinegar, pulse to combine. Salt as needed.

Step four
Heat 2 tbsp canola oil over medium-hot burner. Add shrimp, toss until pink. Add minced garlic, toss; add cheese, toss; add chipotle salsa. Simmer to heat.

Step five
On each tortilla, place several shrimp, topped with pico de gallo, and a drizzle of tamarind hot sauce.