Prawn soft shell tacos

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The seafood/fish taco is a relatively new concept to me.  Until the Mexican restaurant phenomenon that has recently taken over Melbourne, my experience of Mexican food was Old El Paso out of a box and few crappy renditions of Mexican food at poor excuses for Mexican restaurants.  And then I had my first prawn taco when Mamasita’s in Melbourne opened and I have been craving it ever since.

While we’re talking about Mexican restaurants, how has it happened that practically every new restaurant than has opened in Melbourne over the past 18 months has been Mexican.  Is there some secret squirrel restaurant society that dictates which cuisine is going to be the trend for the next year and that every restaurant that opens must follow this trend?  I can almost imagine it…headed by a cravated Matt Preston rubbing his nuggety fingers together and announcing that this year is the year of the Mexican restaurant…bwahahaha…as he licks his lips in anticipation of all the thousands of taco’s he’s going to consume and review.  As much as I love Mexican, I have to say that it’s getting a little ridiculous how many have opened over the past year, not that they’re not good, but they are a little same same.


But back to these prawn tacos.  I’ve made these prawn taco’s a lot, they’re a lot lighter and fresher than your meat taco and I really love the texture of prawn in the soft shell taco, with the creamy guacamole , it’s pretty hard to beat.  Don’t skip the step of boiling down the marinade and caramelizing the onions in the marinade as this condiment really takes this taco to the next level.

Prawn soft shell tacos

Inspired by Use Real Butter’s halibut taco’s

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 600g smallish raw peeled prawns, tails off
  • guacamole – recipe here
  • tortillas – store-bought is fine or you can make your own from this recipe.

For the red cabbage slaw

  • 1/4 red cabbage shredded
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, finely sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 1 tbps flaked sea salt (I use Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

Marinade for the prawns:

  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp tequila
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 jalapenos, cut in half, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

What to do:

Place the cabbage and fennel in a colander and sprinkle over the salt and toss to distribute.  Find a bowl that fits into the colander and that will push down on the cabbage.  Fill the bowl with water to increase its weight on the cabbage.  The salt will draw out the some of the moisture out from the cabbage and fennel.

In a bowl mix together the rest of the ingredients for the slaw.  Then prepare the marinade by throwing all the ingredients into a large snaplock back.  Snap the bag shut and smush all the ingredients together so they are evenly incorporated.  Now put the prawns in the snaplock bag and leave to marinade for approximately 20 mins.

Go back to the cabbage and take the bowl filled with water out of the colander.  Squeeze the cabbage to get the moisture out and then give it a bit of rinse so it’s not too salty.  Put the cabbage in with the rest of the ingredients for the slaw.

Heat a pan on high heat.  Take the prawns out of the marinade and cook in the pan until cooked through.  They should only take about 45 seconds on each side.  If you can’t fit all the prawns at once. Do them in batches as you want them to slightly caramelize rather than stew in the pan.

Once all the prawns are cooked.  Put aside and cover with foil to keep warm.  Put the marinade in the pan and cook until the liquid has evaporated and you are left with slightly charred onions.  Serve this as an accompaniment to put in the tacos.  Don’t leave this part out because the onions really add to the flavour.

Serve with warmed soft taco shells and guacamole. Mexican heaven.



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  • Susana Ramirez

    Julia-next time you visit NYC I’ll have to take you to my fave Mex restaurant for some traditional Mex food! Love the recipes you have here!

    • Jules

      Thanks Susana. Would love to catch-up next time I’m NYC. Hope you’re well x

    • Thanks Susana. Would love to catch-up next time I’m NYC. Hope you’re well x

  • Mmm…. Prawn taco.. sounds refreshing and healthy, too! Yum!

    • I’m sure you will love it!

  • Lynda Bay

    It looks beautiful and pleasant to the eyes. WOW! Can’t wait to taste the shrimp in the taco… 🙂

    • The colours are great aren’t they and they taste even better!

  • These look fantastic! I love seafood tacos, but usually use fish. I’ll have to give these a try!

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