"Shrimp just need to be treated with a little respect," says Drew Deckman, whose straightforward and satisfyingly spicy recipe for shrimp tostadas (see the recipe) had the TT team forgetting all about our love affair with artisanal toasts as we crunched one crisp fried corn tortilla after another.
The Peachtree City, GA native runs Deckman's en el Mogor, a "table-to-farm" outdoor seasonal restaurant set on a vineyard in Valle de Guadalupe, Mexican wine country.
The tostada magic starts with the shrimp, which he poaches very gently. What's the rush? When they're halfway there, he pulls them out of the simmering water and lets the residual heat inside the shrimp slowly nudge the meat from raw to cooked.
"We never shock them in ice water!" he says. This spa treatment pays off: The shrimp have a perfectly tender, smooth texture that's totally different from traditional ceviche, even though the brightness and heat of the chile-laced lime juice bring its flavors into the same place.
"There's acidity, salt, picante," Deckman says. "Then comes the bold anise from the raw fennel. The implied sweetness from the mint. The bitterness from cilantro." A baseline of cucumber and onion carries the shrimp through, he says.
That explains why this stack of tostadas with spicy shrimp and pieces of cool ripe avocado is fast becoming our go-to summer snack.