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Tequila Shrimp with Lime Butter Corn and Black Bean Cakes

A Mexican vacation you can take from skillet to plate in one hour!  

Shrimp Scampi

Whenever I wish I were on some white-sandy Mexican beach sipping a cocktail and feasting on someone else’s delicioso cuisine, I can grab my skillet as my passport to the destination I seek. This recipe takes me there with three simple yet sophisticated components that work together in perfect harmony. A quick flambé of the shrimp in tequila renders them flavorful and tender, while a lightning-fast sauté of fresh corn brings out the milky sweetness of each bursting kernel. Puréed black beans and flour make a tender pancake on which to showcase it all. Better than takeout, faster than a flight, and ready in under an hour.

Essential equipment: cutting board; chef's knife or paring knife; microplane; fork or reamer; medium mixing bowl; nonstick sauté pan; offset spatula; wooden spoon; tongs; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; large sauté pan; wooden spoon

Black Bean Cake Ingredients: ½ cup black beans, puréed

1 egg

¼ cup all-purpose flour kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1-2 teaspoons unsalted butter Corn Ingredients:

4 ears of corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

zest and juice of 1 lime

half a seeded jalapeño, finely diced (optional)

½ teaspoon kosher salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Shrimp Ingredients: 1 pound large shrimp (about 2 dozen shrimp), peeled and deveined 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup tequila

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Garnish Ingredients:

1 avocado, quartered and sliced ½ cup pico de gallo

fresh cilantro leaves

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the black bean purée, egg, all-purpose flour, and kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well to combine. Set aside.

2. Add 1-2 teaspoons butter to a nonstick sauté pan set over medium-heat. Once the butter melts and foams, add ¼-cup scoops of batter to the pan to make 4 pancakes, working in batches if necessary. Cook each pancake until it bubbles (approximately 2 minutes), then flip and cook for another 2 minutes until golden brown and set. Remove from the pan and cover loosely with foil. Set aside.

ILOC tip: since you use the same pan for the black bean cakes, corn, and shrimp, cooking these components in that order is very important. You might need to wash the pan between the pancakes and the corn, but not necessarily. There is no need to wash the pan between cooking the corn and the shrimp as the tequila will take care of that for you and return all that good flavor to the shrimp. It's all about technique, not torture!

3. In the same pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter foams, add the corn kernels to the pan and immediately begin stirring. Sprinkle in the lime zest and juice along with the diced jalapeño if using, and the salt and pepper. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until the corn goes from opaque to slightly translucent. Taste to verify that it is seasoned to your liking and remove to a bowl. Set aside.

4. Return the pan to the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat. Once the butter foams, add the shrimp and sauté until pink on the underside. Using tongs, carefully turn over each shrimp then add the tequila. Tilt the pan into the flame or carefully ignite the alcohol with a match. Once the flame subsides within the pan, swirl the shrimp in the pan moving the pan with your wrist in a clockwise circular motion. When the liquid is all but gone, remove the pan from the heat and season the shrimp generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Divide the black bean cakes among four plates. Top each cake with the slices of a quarter of avocado. Top with a large spoonful of sautéed corn sprinkled with 1 tablespoon of pico de gallo. Place 6 shrimp atop the corn and sprinkle with another tablespoon of pico de gallo. Finish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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