illustration by kelsey king
As soon as I saw it, I was captivated. The impossibly red tempura batter gleams inside chef Alejandro Castillon’s tacos. They’re based on a soft-shell crab tempura he made while a chef at Tim McKee’s tapas restaurant, Solera. Castillon always thought it would make a good taco—and he was right. Corn starch, eggs, and enough buffalo hot sauce to give the tempura a roaring red tint—without a burning hot flavor—the red tempura shrimp caramelo was born. “It was very, very popular right away,” Castillon says. Today, Sonora Grill sells about 2,000 a month at the Lake Street restaurant.