It’s surprisingly easy to make authentic and incredibly tasty Mexican tacos. Let PAT PILCHER show you how.
Mexican food has earned bit of a bad reputation in NZ as most of what is passed off as Mex food is often badly made. I had no idea how good real Mexican food could be until I tried proper Baja style Mex food at what has since become my favourite Mexican restaurant, Lula, which is in Santa Monica’s main street in Los Angeles. The fresh zingy and cheerful taste of Lula’s tacos is simply out of this world.
The good news is that creating your own delish tacos isn’t difficult. All you need is a few simple ingredients – all of which can be found in supermarkets, a Tortilla press (most kitchen shops sell them) and a little time. Trust me, your efforts will be richly rewarded.
Ingredients (serves two)
- 2 x cups Corn Masa
- 1x cup Water
- 1 cup of grated Cheese
- Leftover shredded roast chicken (or jackfruit, chilli con carne or refried beans)
- 1-2 Avocados
- Generous handful of Rocket
- 2 Fresh Limes
- 3-4 large fresh sun-ripened Tomatoes
- 1-2 Jalapeno Chilli (seeded)
- A bunch of Coriander
- 1 -2 cloves of Garlic
- 2 smallish Shallots
Step 1 (Tortillas)
First things first, make your tortillas (pronounced tor-teyas), these are the delicious soft bread-like pieces of yum that you fold around all your other ingredients. Good tortillas are not made from traditional wheat flour but corn masa. Masa is made from finely ground dried corn kernels that have been cooked and soaked in limewater, a diluted solution of calcium hydroxide. A side benefit for some is that it should be gluten-free too. You’ll also need a Tortilla press; these are available from most kitchen supply shops, and you’ll need some plastic bags to put on both sides of the tortilla press so your tortillas don’t stick. Here’s how to make your own!
- Heat up a cast iron or heavy pan on the stove
- Place two cups of corn masa in a large bowl, add one cup of water and mix into a dough using a fork
- Roll the dough into a long sausage
- Cut the corn masa sausage into 2-inch chunks, roll these into balls
- Place a ball in the tortilla press and press to flatten
- Cook each tortilla in the cast iron pan until both sides look lightly toasted. Place on baking paper to create a stack of cooked tortillas and cover with a damp tea-towel (this will also ensure they don’t cool and dry out so you can fold them around your taco fillings)
Step 2 (Pico De Gallo)
Pico De gallo is a Mexican tomato salad. Unlike a salsa, pico de gallo is less wet, and tastes incredible.
- Dice the tomatoes
- Finely chop one of the shallots, garlic and coriander and Jalapeno Chillis
- Add the juice of half a lime and a pinch of salt
- Mix in with the tomatoes and leave covered to sit for at least 30 minutes so the flavours can incorporate
Step 3 (Guacamole)
This guac recipe comes from Ross, my brother-in-law, a Texan who is incredibly passionate about Mex food. His recipe really is the business!
- Halve the avocado, removing the stone and discarding its skin, making sure the avocado is fresh
- Place the avocado flesh in a bowl and add the juice of one lime
- Finely chop one shallot and add to the avocado
- Add a small pinch of salt
- Mash the avocado using a potato masher
- Cover and set aside
Step 4 Other fillings
- Chicken – We frequently buy a whole chicken and roast it using our Breville Combi wave. We always have leftover chicken, and tacos are one of the tastiest ways of using all the leftovers up. Simply shred the chicken into a bowl and set aside
- Cheese – Grate a generous amount of cheddar Colby into a bowl and set aside
- Salad – Wash, rinse and pat dry some rocket or lettuce and set aside in a bowl
Thermomix Hot Sauce
Last but by no means least grab some hot sauce or, even better still, make your own using this Thermomix recipe below. If you’re the lucky owner of a Thermomix, click this link. It’ll take you 1 hour and hardly any effort to knock out a batch of delish hot sauce that’ll keep for ages.
Otherwise, follow this recipe
- 1000g plum tomatoes, quartered
- 40g fresh root ginger, peeled, cut in round slices (2 mm)
- 40g grapeseed oil
- 80g fresh red chillies, deseeded and cut in pieces (2 cm)
- 10 garlic cloves
- 100g white wine vinegar
- 200g sugar
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- Place tomatoes, ginger, oil, chillies and garlic in a blender and blend for 10 sec at a fast speed
- Add vinegar, sugar, and salt then, transfer to a small pot and cook for 60 min at medium/high heat.
- As you hit about 40 minutes end of this time, preheat oven to 160°C. When you hit 50 minutes place jars and lids in oven to sterilise for approx 10 minutes.
- Place sauce mix in a blender and purée 1 min, increasing speed gradually.
- Transfer to warm glass jars with screw-top lids (see tip), leaving approx. 5 mm gap at the top. Make sure that rims of jars are clean and close immediately.
Place all the fillings in bowls and divide the tortillas evenly on plates. Eat and enjoy!