Blame it on my Southern California roots, but one place I feel super drawn to in Mexico is Baja California.
I used to think it was because of its proximity to my hometown of Los Angeles or the frequency with which my family traveled there.
But, when I started spending more time there for our Salt & Wind Travel group trips, I realized it wasn’t just that. It’s because the region is very similar – from the climate to the culture and the vibes — to Southern California and pretty much would be the same place were it not for the border.
And I’m not alone in that sentiment – the area from Southern California to Baja California has been coined the Baja Med because the food grown and cooked here is very much a blend of the sunshine-y flavors of Baja and the arid climate of the Mediterranean.
Channeling The Baja Med
We’ve gotten into the origin story of Baja Med cuisine before but the bottom line is it is made up of a lot of seasonal, fresh flavors very much inspired by the ocean and our Mediterranean climate.
Just as the Mediterranean has olive oil, the Baja Med has avocado oil and I’m working with Chosen Foods to share a thing or two about how to best use avocado oil and, of course, a recipe that makes it shine!
This Baja-Inspired Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Tostadas recipe is one of those that, once you make it a few times, it’ll become automatic to pull together. Not to mention a lot of it can be made ahead (see below) so it’s perfect for entertaining.
The reason I’m partial to it is that each bite has a TON of flavor thanks to the chipotle shrimp, the cumin-scented cabbage, the pickled onions, and the charred jalapeño cilantro sauce. But, before we go any further, I know a lot of you have questions about avocado oil so let’s dive into that first!
Avocado Oil Versus Other Oils
In the last few years, avocado oil has started popping up more and more and with it a lot of questions. Namely, what is the difference between avocado oil and all the other oils out there?
One of the biggest questions people have when they hear about avocado oil is whether avocado oil is good for you. The short answer: heck yes!
Avocado oil often gets compared to olive oil because they’re both heart-healthy but avocado oil has a few things that separate it from the pack. Namely:
Heart Healthy:Avocado is packed with monounsaturated fats which very much makes it a “good” fat!
Neutral Flavor Profile:The neutral flavor profile means you can use it in all sorts of recipes without having it overwhelm anything.
High Smoke Point:The smoke point is 500°F, which is much higher than most oils out there. Translation: you can use it for everything from baking to sautéing to frying and grilling.
Sustainable:Oh, and the Chosen Foods avocado oil is also sustainable. Yes, avocado trees do require a lot of water but 70% of their avocado groves are naturally irrigated by rainfall where they’re grown in Central Mexico.
Great Texture:Emulsions like mayo and salad dressings taste better when avocado oil is at the base because of the silky texture.
How To Best Use Avocado Oil
Now that you know why you want to use avocado oil, let’s get talk about how to use it. The good news is that avocado oil is super versatile. The one-two combo of the neutral flavor and the high smoke point means you can use it for grilling, sautéing, stir fry, baking, and frying!
Case in point: in this recipe, we use the oil to make the sauces as well as to grill the shrimp and even bake the tostadas!
Tips For Making These Tostadas
These tostadas have a few parts to them and you could certainly only make what you want to cut down on the prep, but I encourage you to make them all the way through at least once because the full combination of flavors is seriously good!
To make these tostadas great every time, here are a few tips:
Get Great Shrimp:The grilled shrimp is the star here so you’ll want to get fresh high-quality shrimp for this recipe. Make sure they’re peeled and deveined before you marinate them so they can get the maximum flavor from the Chipotle Ranch dressing.
Use A Grill Pan:
The last thing you want is those delicious shrimp falling into the grill grates. Invest in a grill pan so you can cook them easily and evenly.
Don’t Skip The Cilantro “Crema”:The majority of the flavor of this recipe comes from the Chipotle Ranch dressing that’s used to marinate the shrimp and the charred jalapeño cilantro sauce (aka a dairy-free “crema”) so make sure you make them both!
Make (Almost) Everything Ahead:Almost all thee parts of this recipe can be made ahead of time (see below). Do yourself a favor and do that so that all you have to do is grill the shrimp and assemble the tostadas when you want to eat.
Make (A Lot) Ahead Of Time
Almost everything aside from grilling can be done ahead of time. Here are the specifics:
Marinated Shrimp:They can be marinated and stored refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day ahead of time.
Baked Tostadas:Can be baked up to 8 hours ahead of time and kept at room temperature until ready to use.
Cilantro Crema:Can be made all the way through up to 1 day ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use (you may have to thin the sauce with a few tablespoons of water to make it drizzle-able on the final tostada
Pickled Onions:Feel free to make them up to 8 hours ahead!
Go ahead and toss it with the cumin and oil up to 6 hours ahead – store refrigerated until ready to use and add the lime at the last minute.
Baja-Inspired Chipotle Grilled Shrimp Tostadas Recipe
Marinate The Shrimp:
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp (about 30)
- 1/3 cup Chosen Foods Chipotle Ranch Dressing
For The Cilantro Vegan Crema:
- 1 medium jalapeño chile
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup roasted salted cashews
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 medium garlic clove
- Juice of 1 medium Lime plus more limes for garnish
- 2 tablespoons Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
- kosher salt
- Maldon sea salt or other flaky sea salt, for garnish
For The Tostadas:
- 8 (5 inch) corn tortillas
- Chosen Foods Avocado Oil for brushing on the tortillas
For The Pickled Onions:
- 1/2 medium red onion sliced paper thin
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For The Cabbage Slaw:
- 2 tablespoons Chosen Foods Avocado Oil
- 1/2 head Napa cabbage or green cabbage, shredded crosswise paper thin
- Pinch cumin seeds
- 1 bunch trimmed radishes sliced paper thin, for garnish
- 4 medium ripe avocado
- Marinate The Shrimp: Place the shrimp in a large nonreactive (i.e. stainless steel or glass) bowl and add the Chosen Foods Chipotle Ranch dressing. Stir to coat all the shrimp in the dressing then refrigerate until ready to use, at least 20 minutes. The shrimp can be marinated up to 1 day in advance – be sure to cover them and keep them refrigerated the whole time.
- Make The Cilantro Vegan Crema: Place the jalapeño on an open flame or under the broiler and char until it’s blackened all over, about 5 to 8 minutes. Place in a resealable plastic container or in a bowl covered with a plate and set aside for about 5 minutes so the skin steams off. Remove the jalapeño and peel off the blackened skin using the back of a knife. Remove the stem, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds.Combine the jalapeño, the one bunch of the cilantro leaves and tender stems, the 1/2 cup of cashews, the 1/2 cup water, 1 garlic clove, the juice of 1 lime, and 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil in the carafe of a blender. Blend the mixture until it’s evenly smooth, at least 30 seconds. Remove the carafe from the blender, taste and add more salt and pepper as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Bake The Tostadas: Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the upper third. Brush each tostada on both sides with oil then bake on a rimmed baking sheet about 8 to 10 minutes until crispy and golden. Top with flaky sea salt and set aside.
- Make The Pickled Onion: Combine the ½ red onion, the ¼ cup red wine vinegar, the 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and the pinch of salt in a small nonreactive (i.e. stainless steel or glass) bowl and toss to coat the onion in the vinegar. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until ready to use, at least 20 minutes. Taste and add more salt as desired.
- Dress The Cabbage: Combine the shredded cabbage, oil, and cumin seeds in a medium nonreactive (ie stainless steel or glass) bowl and toss to coat. Top with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt then serve.
- Grill The Shrimp: Remove the shrimp from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature while you prepare the grill. Turn the grill to medium high then dip a paper towel in the extra oil and rub the grill pan you'll use with it to make sure everything is extra nonstick. Once the grill is hot, place the shrimp on the grill pan and cook, undisturbed, until the shrimp are pink and charred on the first side, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn all the shrimp over and cook another 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp to a bowl and top with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime.
- Assemble The Tostadas: To make one tostada, halve an avocado then remove the pit. Smash one half of the avocado with a fork then spread it on the top of one tostada.Top the tostada with a spoonful of the cabbage, about 3 to 4 shrimp, a bit of the pickled onion, and the thinly sliced radish. Drizzle a spoonful of the Chipotle Crema on top. Repeat to make 8 tostadas then serve immediately.