Tacos Gobernador, aka tacos governor, are crispy shrimp tacos from the Sinaloa region of Mexico. Chunks of tender shrimp are tossed in a saucy tomato chile mixture then piled into tortillas with melted cheese. They're bold in flavor, slightly spicy, and wonderfully crispy.
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History of Tacos Gobernador
As the story goes, Tacos Gobernador originated in Sinaloa Mexico. Sinaloa is known for incredible seafood and seafood dishes, such as their take on ceviche, aguachile.
It’s believed these tacos were created in the late 1980s by chefs at Los Arcos in Mazatlan to impress the governor of Sinaloa. Though some stories say the mayor preferred his shrimp tacos with cheese and chiles, thus Tacos Gobernador were born. Either way, I’m on board.
What are Tacos Gobernador?
At the most basic level Tacos Gobernador are a type of shrimp taco featuring melty cheese and roasted chiles (often poblanos). There are countless variations of Tacos Gobernador these days. Many use small corn tortillas, but some recipes use flour. White onion, garlic and tomato are common, though you won’t find tomato on the menu at Los Arcos.
My version of Tacos Gobernador is adapted from America’s Test Kitchen and does things a bit differently. Traditionally, the tacos are cooked in butter or lard in a hot skillet. For a quicker, more efficient method, I assemble them open-faced on oiled baking sheets. This method creates the beloved crispy, golden brown tortillas while also cooking six tacos at a time.
Test Kitchen Tip: it's OK if the cheese melts and spreads onto the baking sheet. It will crisp up and edge the tortilla in frico (crispy cracker-like cheese).
And instead of roasting and peeling poblanos, I opt for minced fresh jalapeño. It’s quicker and allows you to control how much heat is added by removing or including the ribs and seeds.
Diced raw shrimp gets folded into a saucy tomato mixture which gets spooned over corn tortillas layered with shredded cheese. For this recipe I like to use shredded pepper Jack cheese, it melts well and adds a bit more heat. Queso Chihuahua, asadero and/or Oaxaca are more traditional and also work well.
- large tomatoes
- small onion
- jalapeño chile
- tomato paste
- honey or sugar
- fresh lime juice
- garlic cloves
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- large shrimp (26/30)
- grapeseed or vegetable oil
- 6-inch yellow corn tortillas
- pepper Jack cheese (Queso Chihuahua, asadero or Oaxaca also work)
- Toppings: shredded romaine lettuce, diced avocado, fresh cilantro, hot sauce
How to Make Tacos Gobernador
- Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, tomato paste, honey, lime juice, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Cook tomato mixture until saucy and thickened.
- Off heat, stir in shrimp.
- Brush baking sheets with oil. Arrange tortillas on baking sheets and brush with oil.
- Top tortillas with shredded cheese followed by shrimp mixture.
- Bake one sheet at a time, on bottom rack, until tortillas are golden brown and crispy.
- Top tacos with desired toppings and fold in half.
- Serve with roasted salsa verde.
- Swap the jalapeño out for roasted, peeled and diced poblano.
- Use shredded cabbage instead of shredded lettuce.
- Cook the tacos in a cast-iron skillet in butter or grapeseed oil. For this method, fold the tacos and cook on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining tacos.
- Top with cilantro lime slaw instead of lettuce and cilantro (this Herbed Green Slaw is a great option).
Sides for Shrimp Tacos
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Tacos Gobernador, aka crispy shrimp tacos. Featuring chunks of shrimp tossed in a saucy tomato chile mixture and piled into tortillas with melted cheese. They're bold in flavor, slightly spicy, and wonderfully crispy.
- 2 large tomatoes, cored and diced
- 1 small onion, chopped fine
- 1 jalapeño chile, stemmed and minced*
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon honey, or sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound large shrimp (26/30), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
- 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or vegetable oil
- 12 Frescados (6-inch) yellow corn tortillas
- 8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
- shredded romaine lettuce
- diced avocado
- fresh cilantro
- hot sauce
Heat oven to 450ºF with rack set in lowest position. Combine tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, tomato paste, honey, lime juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin oil in a large skillet over medium-high until shimmering. Add tomato mixture and cook until liquid has thickened and mostly evaporated, and tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut shrimp into ½-inch pieces. Remove skillet from heat and stir in shrimp; set aside.
Brush 2 rimmed baking sheets with 2 tablespoons oil (1 tablespoon per sheet). Arrange 6 tortillas in a single layer on each prepared sheet. Brush remaining 2 tablespoons oil over tortillas.
Divide pepper Jack evenly among tortillas, then top with shrimp mixture. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until bottoms and edges of tortillas are golden brown and crisp and cheese is melted, 9–14 minutes.
Top tacos with lettuce, avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce, if using. Quickly fold tacos in half and arrange, standing up, in a rimmed platter or dish. Serve with lime wedges and additional hot sauce.
For a more mild, less-spicy taco filling, seed the jalapeño before mincing.
Buying a block of pepper Jack and shredding it yourself makes all the difference. It’s creamier and meltier than pre-shredded cheese because it isn’t tossed with an anti-caking agent.
The shrimp do not need to be cooked through on the stove top—they’ll finish cooking in the oven.
- Serving Size: 2 tacos
- Calories: 453
- Sugar: 6g
- Sodium: 756mg
- Fat: 21g
- Saturated Fat: 9g
- Carbohydrates: 39g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 29g
- Cholesterol: 149mg
Keywords: Tacos Gobernador, Crispy Shrimp Tacos