Shrimp Tacos, But Better

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."

Acapulco Shrimp Tacos


• 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


  1. For hot sauce, blend tamarind paste, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 2 cups canola oil, water, honey, sambal oelek. Salt to taste.
  2. 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.
  3. For tomato-chipotle salsa, preheat oven to 375°. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. On each tortilla, place several shrimp, topped with pico de gallo, and a drizzle of tamarind hot sauce.

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