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 verrrry 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.
We’ve gotten into the origin story of Baja Med cuisine before but 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 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 jalapeno 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!
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:
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!
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:
Almost everything aside from grilling can be done ahead of time. Here are the specifics:
plus more limes for garnish
divided, plus more for garnish
sliced paper thin
or green cabbage, shredded crosswise paper thin
sliced paper thin, for garnish
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 “Crema”: Place the jalapeno 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 jalapeno and peel off the blackened skin using the back of a knife. Remove the stem, slice lengthwise and remove the seeds.
Combine the jalapeno, the one bunch of the cilantro leaves and tender stems, the ½ cup of cashews, the ½ 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 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 refrigerate 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 minute. 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.
Sponsored Content: This story has been brought to you by Chosen Foods. Thank you for supporting these sponsors who help keep Salt & Wind Travel up and running.
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