Enchiladas are a Mexican dish that primarily consists of tortillas wrapped around a meat, bean, or cheese filling. This dish is typically topped with a pepper, tomato, or cream-based sauce and cheese before being baked. One common variation of the dish is seafood enchiladas, which may be filled with a variety of types of seafood, such as shrimp, crab meat, or scallops. While meat, bean, or cheese fillings tend to be more forgiving and not have their texture damaged with overcooking, a seafood filling can easily become rubbery and tough if it is even slightly overcooked. This may make it difficult for some cooks to bake the enchiladas and thoroughly melt the cheese without overcooking the seafood; however, there are certain tips for making seafood enchiladas successfully.
The type of seafood that is selected may help reduce the risk of overcooking the dish. For beginners who are not used to cooking with seafood, choosing a processed form of seafood, such as imitation crabmeat, may be easier because they won’t have to be as concerned about overcooking it and affecting the texture. Since processed seafood is usually already cooked through, the main concern when baking the enchiladas is simply to melt the cheese rather than worrying about the doneness of the seafood filling. If raw chopped shrimp, scallops, or other uncooked seafood is being used, it should typically only be sautéed in oil until it is just no longer translucent so that it won’t become dried out when the enchiladas are baked in the oven.
Although enchilada sauce may also be made with red or green chile peppers, seafood enchiladas tend to traditionally be made with a cream-based sauce. Cream-based enchilada sauce has a milder flavor than pepper-based sauces so it may be less likely to overwhelm the delicate taste of the seafood filling. A common enchilada cream sauce may consist of heavy cream simmered with broth, wine, or another liquid, and may be flavored with sautéed onions, garlic, peppers, or other preferred ingredients. Enchilada sauce is generally divided, with a portion being mixed in with the seafood to moisten it and create the filling, while the other portion of the sauce is reserved for topping the enchiladas.
Another one of the best tips for making seafood enchiladas is to properly prepare the tortillas and make them flexible enough to be easily handled and folded around the filling. Although corn tortillas tend to be more traditional, flour tortillas may also be used to make enchiladas. Tortillas may be softened in a variety of ways, including being wrapped in foil and baked for 10 minutes or until softened, or being heated for about 30 seconds per side in an ungreased nonstick pan on the stovetop. Once the tortillas are softened enough to be easily folded without breaking, the seafood filling may be spooned onto them and the tortillas may be rolled around the filling. After being covered with reserved sauce and the preferred type and amount of cheese, seafood enchiladas should only be baked just until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted to prevent drying out the seafood filling.