Spicy Shrimp Tortas

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Equal parts shrimp taco and po’ boy, my delightful Spicy Shrimp Tortas are the hoagie you need in your life right now. Lightly toasted bolillos are loaded up with creamy mashed avocado, spicy charbroiled shrimp, and tangy pickled red onions. Prepare yourself, amigos. This seafood sandwich is a two-fister, best enjoyed with lots of napkins and a cold cerveza.

two spicy shrimp tortas on a black plate

This delightfully messy Mexican seafood sandwich is everything I want out of a summer meal – relatively fast and easy to make, filled to the brim with bright flavors, and a perfect balance of spicy-salty-creamy-tangy-savory-goodness that’ll have the whole team coming back for more. 

Why I Love This Recipe

There’s something wonderful about eating a sandwich as a meal, don’t ya think? It’s so unfussy, so uncomplicated, and so relatable to everyone, regardless of age, income, or food ethnicity. If you are yet unfamiliar with the beauty that is a Mexican torta, this spicy shrimp sandwich is a wonderful place to start.

Like a po’ boy with a Mexican twist, I’ve contemplated calling this seafood sandwich masterpiece a po’ niño! (Anyone else hearing this song playing in their head right now?)

spicy red marinade for making shrimp tortas distributed among a large mason jar and two delitainers

It all starts with the shrimp, which can be marinated in leftover red chile sauce or in the easy chile marinade below. After the shrimp is marinated, it is seared in a hot pan until lightly blackened for a yummy smoky flavor. 

Overhead on Camarones a la Diabla in a pan

As the shrimp cooks, the rest of the sandwich components come together for a fast and easy meal the whole family will love. One bite and it is an explosion of shrimp taco vibes!

The shrimp has a great char and texture that combines beautifully with the soft bollilo, creamy avocado, and tangy pickled red onions. I have no other way to describe it: this spicy shrimp torta is a fiesta in your mouth. What’s not to love?

close up shot of Mexican spicy shrimp po' boy with pickled red onions and avocado mash

How to Make Mexican Shrimp Sandwiches

This meal is so simple to make, you’re going to flip! First, let’s start by making the marinade. Remove the stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place them in a colander and rinse well with cool water.

dried red chiles in a blender pitcher

Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending.

As the chiles are cooking, prepare your shrimp. If necessary, thaw shrimp. Peel, devein and rinse shrimp, then pat dry with paper towels.

raw shrimp in a blue rectangular bowl

Back to the marinade: fill blender with 1 cup of cooking liquid, simmered chile pods, flour, garlic, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Combine shrimp and red chile sauce in a large bowl, then set aside to marinate 10 to 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. When the oil is shimmering, add shrimp. Turn them once, cooking about 2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from skillet. 

Watch this video to see how to make these shrimp tortas.

TIP: Don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking the shrimp, and just let them cook a couple minutes on each side. This will prevent the shrimp from overcooking, which can result in tough, unpalatable meat.

To serve these spicy shrimp sandwiches, spread mashed avocado on bottom of toasted rolls. Divide shrimp among the tortas and top with pickled red onions. Dig in!

tablescape for serving spicy shrimp sandwiches - two tortas on a black cast iron tray, stack of ceramic plates, bowl of pickled onions and two bottles of dos equis beer

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best kind of shrimp to use for this recipe?

I’d recommend grabbing shrimp that are somewhere in the size 16-30 range. This means that there are between 16 and 30 pieces of shrimp per pound. They’re the most flavorful while still being large enough to not be dominated by other ingredients.

Are frozen shrimp okay?

Heck yeah! Unless you live in a coastal town, the “fresh” shrimp in the grocery cooler were likely frozen at some point anyway. I recommend frozen shrimp for the most economical way to enjoy this yummy crustacean.

As an added bonus, you can often find frozen shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined, making these shrimp sandwiches that much easier to make!

What’s the best way to defrost frozen shrimp?

I find that placing frozen shrimp in a colander under cool, running water is the best way to defrost them. Move the shrimp around every few minutes to ensure they thaw evenly. They should be ready to cook in about 10 to 15 minutes if you follow this method.

Other Yummy Shrimp Recipes

Here are some of my other favorite recipes to make with this inexpensive meat:

If you tried my recipe for making Spicy Shrimp Tortas (a.k.a. Mexican Shrimp Po’ Boys), please be sure to rate and review it below! I love hearing how your creations turn out.

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spicy shrimp torta sliced in half on a painted ceramic plate

Spicy Shrimp Tortas

These are similar to a shrimp po boy, but instead of serving them with a creamy spicy sauce, I topped lightly toasted bolillos with creamy mashed avocado and topped the spicy shrimp with tangy pickled red onions.
two shrimp tortas on a black plate
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5 from 1 vote
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Ingredients

Instructions

  • Thaw shrimp if frozen. Peel and devein shrimp. Rinse shrimp; pat dry with paper towels.
  • Remove stems, seeds, and veins from the chile pods. Place in a colander and rinse well with cool water.
  • Add the chiles to a large pot and add enough water so they are just covered. Bring water to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain cooked pods and allow time to cool down before blending.
  • Fill blender with 1 cup of cooking liquid, chile pods, flour, garlic, and salt. Blend until smooth.
  • Combine shrimp in a large bowl with red chile sauce and set shrimp aside to marinate 10 to 15 minutes.
  • In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high. Add shrimp; turning once, about 2 minutes per side. Remove shrimp from skillet.
  • To serve, spread mashed avocado on bottom of rolls. Divide shrimp among sandwiches and top with pickled red onions.

Video

Notes

  • Don’t overcrowd the pan when cooking the shrimp and only let them cook a couple minutes on each side until they are just opaque.
  • What is the best kind of shrimp to use for this recipe? I’d recommend grabbing shrimp that are somewhere in the size 16-30 range.
  • Are frozen shrimp okay? Heck yeah! Unless you live in a coastal town, the “fresh” shrimp in the grocery cooler were likely frozen at some point anyway. I recommend frozen shrimp for the most economical way to enjoy this yummy crustacean.
  • What’s the best way to defrost frozen shrimp?I find that placing frozen shrimp in a colander under cool, running water is the best way to defrost them. Move the shrimp around every few minutes to ensure they thaw evenly. They should be ready to cook in about 10 to 15 minutes if you follow this method.
 

 

Nutrition

Calories: 516kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 381mg, Sodium: 2600mg, Potassium: 881mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 1240IU, Vitamin C: 186mg, Calcium: 283mg, Iron: 6mg

I’d love to see what you cook!

Tag #MUYBUENOCOOKING if you make this recipe.

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Photography by Jenna Sparks

Originally published: February 2019.