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2 months ago

Tacos, Tacos, Tacoland


October 4th is National Taco Day in the United States, and since tequila is the taco’s best friend, we couldn’t miss celebrating this day! So, here is a tribute to the identifying symbol of Mexican cuisine. Now’s the perfect moment to grab a taco and immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Tacoland.

What Is a Taco?

  • A taco, at its simplest, is a tortilla with filling and salsa, prepared with the proper care and ingredients. It can be a quick bite, an appetizer, a snack or even an entire meal.

  • According to Tacopedia, a taco is a corn tortilla stuffed with seasoned meat, cheese and sometimes lettuce or more, eaten as a snack or light meal. 

  • The tortilla has the marvelous capacity to adapt itself to fillings—be they of meat, vegetables, fruits, cheese or whatever you have in the fridge. In other words, anything placed in a tortilla is, by definition, a taco!

  • The recipes for preparing the proteins that get put into tacos are often complex and require long hours of preparation. Experts in the field have developed scrumptious options.

Did You Know? 

  • The taco was invented between 1,000 and 500 B.C. as a kind of edible spoon. 

  • The average Mexican consumes 135 pounds of tortillas per year. 

  • The basic family basket in Mexico consists of: beef, tortillas and beer. 

  • It’s only over the last 200 years that eating tacos has become a popular tradition. 

  • Everything is eaten when put inside a tortilla, including a cow’s head, tongue, eyes, brain and cheeks... Nothing goes to the waste! 

The Perfect Taco 

Tortilla

Nixtamalized corn, that is, using ripened corn mixed with water and lime until a dough is obtained.

Handmade.

Eaten hot because it cools down quickly.

Filling

Cow

Pig

Sheep

Goat  

Cook Techniques 

On a charcoal grill

On a griddle

On a vertical grill

In an oven or in a pit 

In a barbeque oven 

Vapor steamed

Deep fried

In a copper pot 

In ceramic pot 

On a comal 

In a convex-concave comal 

In a tamale pot 

In a skillet 

Salsa: The True Soul of the Taco 

Fresh, uncooked salsas—made with fresh green serrano chiles, tomatoes and onion

Guacamole

Red salsa 

Green salsa 

Cooked salsas 

Red salsa with arbol chile

Green salsa with piquin chiles

Green salsa with green serrano chiles 

Mixed salsas

Guajillo chile salsa

Drunken salsa with ancho and pasilla chiles 

Black salsa with arbol, chipotle and guajillo chiles 

Pickled salsas

Pickled chipotles 

Jalapeño chiles in vinegar

Toppings

Chopped onion

Chopped cilantro

Wedges of juicy Mexican lime 

Pineapple *Tacos al pastor  

A Unique Experience in CDMX: Tacos Omakase


At the bar of the acclaimed restaurant Pujol—listed fifth on the list of the world’s best restaurants—they serve a tasting menu of 8 to 10 tacos. The experience is inspired by the Japanese concept of omakase, where the guest lets the chef guide his tasting, the dishes change every day and, as in any taco bar, corn is always present. The experience is limited to 12 people per seating and beverages are à la carte.

Photos by: @rhlorenzo 
Photos by: @rhlorenzo 
Photos by: @rhlorenzo 

The Geography of the Taco

It can be said that each region in Mexico…has its own tacos. We selected some that proudly represent the flavor of each region.

*Source of information: Tacopedia, Editorial Phaidon

Baja California

Lobster tacos with beans: fried, boiled or grilled lobster meat over rice and refried beans; served with flour tortillas and red salsa or chipotle mayonnaise. 

Sinaloa

Chilorio tacos: coarsely diced pork meat fried with ancho and guajillo chilis, garlic, parsley, dried oregano, apple cider vinegar and cumin; served with flour tortillas and salsa. 

Jalisco

Birria tacos: Goat and/or lamb cut into chunks and marinated in and cooked with roasted chili ancho, garlic, cloves, sesame seeds, cinnamon, beer, bay leaves, dried oregano, thyme and apple cider vinegar; served with its broth, tortillas and salsa

Oaxaca

Tasajo tacos: thinly sliced cured beef, grilled and cut into small strips, served with black refried beans, Oaxaca cheese, lettuce or cabbage, onion, sour cream and homemade tlayuda (a large, crispy handmade corn tortilla which ranges from 10 to 16 inches) 

Quintana Roo

Cochinita pibil tacos: pork leg and rib meat marinated and cooked in banana leaves with achiote or red adobo, orange juice, apple cider vinegar; served with pickled red onions, refried beans and Yucatecan habanero chili salsa. 

Yucatán & Campeche 

Papadzules: corn tortillas filled with hard-boiled eggs and bathed in a pumpkin seed salsa; served with habanero chili red salsa. 

Puebla

Arab tacos: any kind of meat cooked on a charcoal grill or griddle, seasoned with garlic, pepper, onion, dried chilis and spices; served in wheat flour pita bread. 

Mexico City

Tacos al pastor: pork meat, first marinated in annatto sauce (dried sweet guajillo chili, onion, garlic, achiote paste, sugar, peppercorns, dried oregano, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, orange juice and apple cider vinegar), then spit-roasted and sliced; served with corn tortillas, roasted pineapple chunks, chopped onion and cilantro, lime wedges and green salsa. 

Bonus Track 

  • Cuetlas tacos: Cuetlas are a kind of worm that lives in chia trees. They are boiled and then fried and served in a tortilla with pasilla chili salsa. 

  • Tacos with jumiles: These insects are called "stink bugs" in English.

  • Maguey worm tacos: The worms are fried in lard until golden brown and crispy, and then served in a tortilla with guacamole and green tomato salsa.

     
  • Escamoles tacos: The ant larvae are cooked with green serrano chiles, and epazote leaves; then served with a tortilla, guacamole and green tomato salsa. 

  • Chapulines tacos: Crispy grasshoppers in a tortilla and served with prepared green tomato salsa or drunken salsa (made with ancho and pasilla chilis, pulque, garlic and orange juice); topped with aged cheese grated

3 Vegan Tacos Recipes for all

By Jorge Fitz @jorgefitzo for the Tahona Society

Who said you need meat to make a delicious taco? Below are three ideas for vegan tacos with something in common: they all rely on the useful strategy of eating every last green stem and every withering vegetable in the crisper drawer. 

I remember as a kid enjoying tacos filled with rice or beans (or both), that I would then smother with salsa. I have the best memories of their flavors and textures!

Today, I like to think a taco can be anything yummy wrapped in a tortilla, which, by the way, can be made of corn or wheat flour.

I love veggies and enjoy them most when they’re crunchy and nutritious, and I like adding them to everything for their texture and for extra flavor. So, when the Tahona Society requested some recipes for vegan tacos, I jumped in! 

I hope you make these recipes and enjoy their flavors—even more so knowing that you saved perfectly good food from going to waste.

Just remember: always add salsa or chile to your tacos, amigos! 

Click here to find recipes for delicious fresh salsa: Easy, Delicious and Spicy: 5 Homemade Taco Sauce Recipes

Colorful Garden Taco

Makes 1 taco

“This taco’s aromas of roasted peppers (red or any and all colors) are reminiscent of Mexican barbecues. You can make this taco in a pan, grill or broiler. If you’re using any of the latter two methods, don’t slice the ingredients until after cooking. You may also want to skip adding any oil to them while cooking, which will allow for a nice charring.”

– Jorge Fitz

Ingredients

  • ⅓ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, plus some to finish
  • ⅓ big bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 spring onion, sliced into rounds all the way to the green part, used to garnish
  • 3 halves sun-dried tomatoes
  • fresh cilantro leaves, to garnish 
  • 1 corn tortilla
  • lime wedges, to garnish
  • salsa, to garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to make

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a heated pan, add the spring onion and cook for about a minute, then add the bell pepper slices and sauté until slightly tender. Remove from the pan before they change color! Warm a tortilla using the same pan and then add the sautéed veggies. Then add a few slices of sun-dried tomato. Add flaky sea salt and a small pinch of pepper. Garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges. If you wish, you can add a few drops of olive oil to the finished taco, then some lime juice and the hot salsa of your preference. 

Sautéed Mushrooms and Bean Salad Taco

Makes 1 taco

“I love to keep cooked beans in the fridge. I add them to greens and have a nutritious salad, or to any soup to instantly make it more hearty and colorful. Today I tossed them together and added olive oil, sea salt and vinegar to garnish this delicious taco. Use any greens that may be withering away in your crisper drawer as garnish!”

– Jorge Fitz

Ingredients

  • A handful of fresh mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster, white or any seasonal mushroom works!)
  • 1 spring onion, sliced (reserve the green part for garnish)
  • 1 small garlic clove, chopped
  • ⅓ small serrano pepper (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons bean salad (assorted cooked beans and chickpeas, olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar and salt)
  • a handful of greens from your crisper drawer (I used leftover arugula), to garnish 
  • the green part from your spring onion, sliced, to garnish 
  • salsa, to garnish 
  • lime wedges, to garnish
  • salt and pepper, to taste

How to make

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a heated pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about a minute. Add the mushrooms and the serrano pepper and toss for about two minutes, then sprinkle some sea salt and a few drops of lime. Continue to cook for another minute or until you start smelling the mushrooms’ beautiful umami-rich aroma. Warm a tortilla in a pan, arrange your cooked ingredients in the taco, garnish with arugula and the onion greens, add a few drops of lime and the salsa of your choosing. 

Fridge-emptying Hummus Taco

“Make this taco with any leftover vegetables you may have in the fridge. Slice them small and give them a quick sautéing. Today I used spring onion greens, broccoli florets, its stems and leaves, and a bit of serrano pepper for a punch.”

– Jorge Fitz

Ingredients

  • a handful of chopped greens 
  • a handful of whole green beans—I used mangetout beans (snow beans) today, but you can use steamed green beans or shelled edamames)
  • 2 tablespoons hummus
  • roasted nuts, like cashews, peanuts or pistachios 
  • 1 tablespoon salsa, to garnish
  • lime wedges, to garnish 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 
  • salsa, to garnish 

How to make

Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a pan, add your chopped greens and cook over medium heat. Toss to cover in the oil and then stop, allowing them to continue cooking and caramelize—getting a slight browning on the edges. 

Remove from the pan and set aside. Add a few more drops of olive oil to the pan and sauté your green beans until they’re starting to brown, stopping before they lose their crunch. 

Warm a tortilla in the same pan. Spread a generous amount of hummus on the tortilla, add your caramelized greens, then the green beans and the roasted nuts. Sprinkle it with flaky salt and black pepper to taste. Add a few drops of lime and garnish with the salsa of your choosing.