As winter in Minnesota goes, we don’t have too much to complain about this year. Yes, it’s cold outside, but it’s no polar vortex. Still, once February rolls around, snowflakes start to lose their appeal and I start daydreaming about warm beaches in exotic places.

Like many of you, my kitchen has seen its fair share of steaming pots of soup and stew in the past few months. While I love a good bowl of chili, my family and I begin to crave food that will transport us away from the Arctic chill and into the sunshine.

I often find myself pulling out my indoor grill pan, putting on a pair of flip-flops (not easy to do when you’re wearing thick wool socks) and listening to Jimmy Buffett as I imagine cooking over charcoal on my deck. Frankly, it’s not a pretty sight, but it’s fun to hear my kids moan and groan as I loudly belt out my own special rendition of “Margaritaville.”

Last week, as the temperatures dipped below zero a little more often than I’m comfortable with, I decided it was time for a tropical treat and, in this case, it took the form of Crispy Shrimp Tacos With Mango Sriracha Sauce.

Shrimp and tacos are a natural duo. The shellfish is light, but can hold its own with other bold flavors. With classic Baja fish tacos as my inspiration, I went with a crispy version and coated my shrimp in panko breadcrumbs, before pan-frying them to golden brown perfection.

An easy, decidedly sunny sauce is made by pureeing a fresh mango together with a little (or a lot, your choice) of Sriracha sauce, along with a bit of mayo and sour cream. Fresh lime juice balances this sweet, spicy and creamy condiment perfectly.

While shredded cabbage is often included in a fish taco, I opted for a single romaine lettuce leaf, which gives the corn tortilla some extra reinforcement, making the dreaded exploding taco syndrome much less likely.

A slice of avocado, a scattering of cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and this taco will have you and your family on a Mexican beach faster than you can find that “lost shaker of salt.”

Crispy Shrimp Tacos with Mango Sriracha Sauce

Makes 12.

Note: Panko-crusted, pan-fried shrimp is drizzled with a creamy, fruity and slightly spicy sauce and tucked inside a warm corn tortilla. The result is a tropical taco that will make you feel the sunshine, no matter what the weather is outside. Panko breadcrumbs are bigger and lighter than the traditional breadcrumb. They can be found in the aisle with breadcrumbs. The recipe makes a little extra sauce, which makes a wonderful salad or coleslaw dressing, sandwich spread or sauce for anything from sautéed chicken breast to pork chops. From Meredith Deeds.

Mango Sriracha sauce:

 1 mango, peeled, seeded and diced

• 2 tbsp. mayonnaise

• 2 tbsp. light sour cream

• 2 tsp. lime juice

• 1 to 2 tbsp. Sriracha sauce

• Pinch of salt

Crispy shrimp:

• 36 medium-sized shrimp

• 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 1/2 c. flour

• 1 egg

• 1/4 c. low-fat milk

 3/4 c. panko breadcrumbs (see Note)

• 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

Tacos

• 12 corn tortillas, warmed

 12 small romaine lettuce leaves

• 12 slices avocado

• Cilantro leaves

• Lime wedges

Directions

In a blender, purée the mango, mayo, sour cream, lime juice, Sriracha and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Lightly season shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper.

Place the flour in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together the egg and milk. Place panko crumbs in another shallow dish. Dredge shrimp in flour mixture; dip in egg/milk mixture. Dredge shrimp in panko crumbs; shake off excess breading.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of shrimp; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and shrimp. Season the hot, crispy shrimp with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt.

To assemble tacos: Place one lettuce leaf inside each corn tortilla. Arrange 1 slice of avocado and 3 shrimp on each leaf. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the mango sauce over each taco and garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve the lime wedges on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 200 Fat 10 g Sodium 296 mg

Carbohydrates 22 g Saturated fat 2 g Calcium 55 mg

Protein 8 g Cholesterol 84 mg Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges: ½ bread/starch, 1 other carb, 1 lean meat, 1 ½ fat.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at @meredithdeeds.