Sunday, July 21, 2013

Shrimp & Corn Quesadilla

Restaurants inspire the home cook this month.

I often look to restaurant menus for inspiration.  It is helpful to see how chefs are combining ingredients and sometimes, you encounter a great dish and think, if I do this at home I can enjoy this all the time.

Mamajuana on the Upper West Side in New York City has a lovely lobster and corn quesadilla to go with their perfectly mixed mojitoes.  Priced right, it has a really good lobster flavor despite a modest amount of meat and a trio of fun dipping sauces.  Even as I ate it, I knew I'd be recreating a seafood quesadilla at home.

Mine uses large grilled shrimp instead of steamed lobster, fresh corn from the farmers market and smoked gouda instead of the Oaxcan cheese Mamajauna uses.  For garnish, a simple mango-avocado salsa steeped in lime juice and a dash of honey replaced the trio of sauces. 

It is colorful and brimming with pure flavors.  Any seafood, cooked lobster, scallops or crab meat can be used instead of shrimp.  Make the salsa a least an hour ahead.

Shrimp & Corn Quesadillas
3 quesadillas (cut in fourths, serves 4 as an appetizer)

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined and split in half lengthwise
1/2 lime
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
salt and pepper
3 large flour tortillas
2 ears corn, cooked and kernals cut from the cob (about 1 cup corn)
6 ounces grated cheese- smoked gouda, smoked mozzarella*
1/2 cup fresh cilantro- unchopped
grape seed or canola oil

*If you prefer an un-smoked cheese, try fontina, fresh mozzarella or jack cheese.

  1. Toss the shrimp in lime juice, oi and salt and pepper.  
  2. Over a medium-high heat in a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet, grill the shrimp 1-2 minutes per side until a nice char develops.  
  3. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.  Wipe out pan and coat with a bit of vegetable oil.  
  4. Assemble the quesadillas.  Lay shredded cheese over the entire tortilla.  
  5. On one side only layer corn.  Place the  shrimp on top of the corn and a few sprigs of cilantro on the shrimp.  You can chop up the shrimp a bit to make it easy to cover the corn.  
  6. Fold the other side of the tortilla (with cheese) over the shrimp-corn side.  
  7. Heat the cleaned skillet over medium heat. Place a quesadilla on the skillet and cook until the cheese melts on the underside and the tortilla begins to brown.  
  8. Flip the quesadilla and continue to cook until the second side is browned and the cheese has completely melted. By using medium rather than high heat, the cheese will melt and the shell with not burn.  Check your temperature and start with lower heat if your stove burners run hot.
  9. Remove the finished quesdilla to a cutting board to set while you cook the remainders.  
  10. To cut, use a very sharp knife or pizza cutter.  Cut quesadillas in quarters.  
 Pile Mango-Avocado Salsa on top and serve.

Mango-Avocado Salsa
1 mango, peeled and chopped (frozen thawed or canned is fine, about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper
1/2-1 seeded jalepeno, minced
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
1/2 avocado, chopped

At least one hour ahead or day before, combine all ingredients except the avocado.  Cover and let marinate.  Just before serving, add the avocado and a stir gently to incorporate. 

Vegetarian Version-- Skip the grilled shrimp and add in extra corn and some chopped red bell pepper.