I found this recipe in Cocktail Food: 50 Finger Foods with Attitude, which we bought on a whim at the Williams-Sonoma outlet one day. (A fantastic book, by the way — highly recommended.) I made it in 2008 for an office party at the State Department, and it received rave reviews. We soon moved on to our new assignment in Moscow, and my wife wowed many of her catering customers with this recipe. When we returned to Washington in 2011, a colleague from the Department noticed my name on an e-mail and wrote to me, not having seen me in almost four years, and remembered the shrimp cups from that office party.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) rock shrimp (or substitute other seafood)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
5 tsp lime juice
1 tsp minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp onion salt (I used sea salt with wonderful results)
1/2 cup fresh uncooked corn kernels
1/3 cup diced red pepper
Three 8-inch flour tortillas
48 cilantro leaves for garnishing
1. Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Season the shrimp with 1/4 tsp of the salt and the pepper. Sauté over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turns pink, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a strainer and let cool. When cool, chop coarsely.
2. Combine the cream cheese, cilantro, lime juice, chipotle chiles, garlic, oregano, and onion salt in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the corn, red pepper, and shrimp. Refrigerate until slightly chilled.
3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
4. Place the tortillas in a stack and trim the edges to form a 6-inch square. Brush both sides of each tortilla with the remaining 1 Tbsp oil. Restack the tortillas and cut each into 16 squares.
5. Press each tortilla square firmly into the bottom of miniature (1-inch cup) muffin tins. Season with the remaining 1/4 tsp salt. Bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool.
6. To assemble: Fill each tortilla cup with 1 tsp of the shrimp mixture. Garnish with a cilantro leaf and serve.
To do ahead: The shrimp salad can be prepared 1 day in advance. The tortilla cups can be prepared up to 5 days in advance and stored in an airtight container. Assemble as directed.
Makes 48 cups