Shrimp Tostadas with Beans & Guac

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Taco Night by Kate McMillan

Serves 4

  • Canola oil for frying
  • 8 corn tortillas (5 inches/13 cm)
  • Kosher salt
  • 24 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Taqueria Guacamole (Follows)
  • Spicy Pinto Beans (Follows), warmed
  • ½ cup (2½ oz/75 g) crumbled queso fresco
  • Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa (Follows)
  • ¼ cup (1/3 oz/10 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves (optional)


Taqueria Guacamole

  • 3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 or 2 dashes of hot sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Spicy Pinto Beans

  • 2 tablespoons lard or canola oil
  • ½ white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, thinly sliced into rings
  • 1 lb (500 g) pinto beans, picked over for stones or grit and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

  • 1 pound ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño chile
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • ½ white onion, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ⅓ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Shrimp Tostadas with Beans & Guac

Shrimp Tostadas with Beans & Guac

Click image to enlarge



Pour oil into a small frying pan over medium-high heat to a depth of ½ inch (12 mm)and heat to 350°F on a deep-frying or candy thermometer. (If you don't have a thermometer, your best test is to dip the edge of a tortilla into the oil; it should sizzle immediately and vigorously.)

Using tongs, add the tortillas, 1 at a time, to the hot oil and fry, turning once, until crispy, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt while the tortillas are still warm.

Warm a grill pan or a cast-iron frying pan over high heat. In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, the chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt and add to the hot pan. Grill or sear, turning once, until the shrimp are bright pink and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

To assemble the tostadas, put 2 tortillas on each of 4 individual plates and layer on the toppings in this order: guacamole, pinto beans, shrimp, queso fresco, and salsa. Garnish with the cilantro leaves, if using, and serve right away.

Taqueria Guacamole

Scoop the flesh from the avocados into a bowl. Using a potato masher or a large fork, smash the avocados until mostly smooth. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice, and hot sauce, if using. Season with salt and pepper and serve right away. To store, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap so that the plastic is touching the guacamole and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Spicy Pinto Beans

Melt the lard in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and golden brown, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté just until soft, about 1 minute. Add the beans and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches (5 cm).

Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the beans are tender, about 2½ hours. Check the pot once in a while to make sure that

the beans are still covered with water, adding a little more if needed.

Uncover the pot and season the beans with salt and pepper. (You may be surprised by how much salt you need to add to get the flavors to pop.) Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken and the seasonings to blend. Transfer to a bowl, add the cilantro, and serve right away.

Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Preheat broiler with a rack 5 inches from heating element and line a baking sheet with foil.

Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and arrange on baking sheet, cut side down. Add the jalepeño, garlic, and onion so that everything is in a single, uncrowded layer. Drizzle with olive oil and broil, turning the vegetables and rotating the pan as needed, until the vegetables are charred all over, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the oven and let cool.

When cool enough to handle, seed the jalapeño if desired and discard the stem. Peel the garlic. Transfer to a blender or food processor, add the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro, and process until well combine with no large chunks. Add the vinegar and pulse to combine.

Season to taste with salt. Serve right away or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1


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