Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tacos... now

Tomatoes on display at the supermarkets are getting prettier and prettier, redder and juicier, and so very alluring. (I know, I know: it's still too early to be tomato season in Vancouver.)

Seduced by these nightshade jezebels, I bought about 5 pounds, thinking Greek salad or pico de gallo.

Pico de gallo won out, because I also bought limes and jalapeños. My heart was beating: taco night, taco night, taco night.

It's been a while since we've had another taco night.

(We've had only a few taco nights and fajita nights ever since our first
Mexican Fiesta/taco night.)

The weather refused to cooperate though and the beautiful tomatoes had to sit in the fridge for about 5 days. Can't very well have a taco night when it looks so grey and gloomy outside.

Finally, on Sunday, we got tired of waiting. I had thawed out the corn tortillas we had in the freezer and there's no turning back. There's also a chicken in the fridge that has been patiently waiting its turn to be made into pollo.

Since we know what we're doing (hah!), it was straight to work.

Condiments, of course.

We didn't try to dazzle with the quantity of condiments this time.

Mandatory: chopped cilantro and minced onions.

I don't really need to put a picture of those up, do I? (Besides, we have pictures of those in our previous post.)

Oh, of course this is mandatory as well: lime wedges! I'm posting a picture because they're so pretty.

The old standby, salsa verde using tomatillos. Everything went into the food processor: tomatillos, onions, jalapeños and garlic.

I saw somewhere that one's supposed to cook/blanch tomatillos before using them. Is that true? We've never cooked ours... to no ill effect, I think.

For our
pico de gallo, I like to drain the chopped tomatoes for at least an hour first. I don't like it getting diluted with too much tomato water. I also like the whole thing tangy-er. So, ours has tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice and plain old white vinegar. (I didn't make this hot at all, though.)

guacamole is basically the pico de gallo plus avocado.

But hey, what's that below? That is new!

I don't know what this is called. Maybe
"Rajas"? That's as per JS.

It's sliced onions and chile peppers with lemon juice. I saw this first at Doña Cata. It's my favorite condiment, I think.

See, that's it! I told you we didn't make many condiments this time. =)

We also just made 2 kinds of fillings. Well, three, but the 3rd one's the black sheep of the filling family.

A different kind of carnitas

This is again a slightly different recipe than what I had before. See, I forgot how I did the original one when I did the dish the second time, and I forgot what I did when I tried it again for the third time.

So, there's just a pileful of forgetting going on. I decided to do an Internet search and
this recipe caught my fancy.

I decided to use it as my jumping off point. I added some oregano, more garlic, and some epazote to the liquid. Oh, and oranges.

The recipe says that the liquid will reduce and the pork should just fry off in its own fat. It didn't happen (I had the feeling that it won't) so I had to fish out the pork pieces and sauté them instead. I added garlic while sautéing.

I could have roasted them, I suppose, in milk too, like the first time, but we were pressed for time. We started doing the work for the taco night around 4:30 and dinner is in a couple of hours. To top it off, we had guests coming so we had to be ready to serve. No 4-hour beef shin dish here.

I didn't want to shred the meat and wanted to keep it in small bite-sized pieces but TS insisted that we shred it.

shred shred shred

Of course you had to shred it! What kind of carnitas would it be unshredded?!

In hindsight, I should have used the original recipe (from the first-ever taco night), but I remembered that took a lot of time to do (about 4 hours). I liked that carnitas better. This one was too orange-y for me. (Yes, it was my fault for dumping the oranges there when the recipe didn't say to do that.)



I saw this chicken filling on -- of all things -- Throwdown with Bobby Flay. This woman in Texas was making puffy tacos. They deep-fry the tortilla to make them puffy, hence, the name. We don't deep-fry (as mentioned), but her filling looks like good home-style cookin'. Hers was poached chicken sauteed with onions, green peppers and tomatoes. I don't know what other seasonings, if any, she had in there.

I poached the chicken in some water with onions, Mexican oregano and cilantro. Cilantro makes everything smell so good!

When that was done, I shredded the entire chicken! That was sort of a labor of love right there! Shredding the breast is easy! But the ENTIRE chicken!?

Then into a pan it went. I started sautéing some onions first. We didn't have any green peppers on hand, but that would've made the mixture smell quite different. Then, the chicken, canned tomatoes (that I've puréed), Mexican oregano and a couple kinds of chile powders. I believe in this case, it was New Mexican, California and Ancho chile powders. This is just what we had on hand.

juicy pollo goodness

And no! Of course we didn't throw away the poaching liquid!

It has a noble purpose:
Tortilla soup

But we'll save that for a different time.

Tex-Mex Taco Beef

Since one person would rather have tex-mex taco beef (I know, I know), we made it. Well, it's not bad. It's good in its own way, but hey, it's not very Mexican now, is it?

I browned some ground beef, then added chile powder, cumin and, my secret ingredient, Pace salsa.

Yes, Pace salsa.

Because, you know, it's "made in San Antonio where folks know what salsa's supposed to taste like." You don't want something that could've been made in New York City. ("New York City?!!?!!!??!?!!")

Look at that nice organic beef.

And that's it!
Pick a filling, mix and match your condiments, and get taco-happy!

A classic combination:
Carnitas w/ minced onions, cilantro, salsa verde and lime

Another simple-is-true combination:
Pollo w/ minced onions, cilantro, "rajas" and lime

I'm sure there were a bunch of other combinations going on this taco night. But those two above are classic. What did Alyn say? Ah yes, they're "very basic, very simple, very down-to-earth." Amen to that.

[eatingclub] vancouver Tacos
Tacos... then
Tacos... now
Tacos of Carnitas with Pineapple, with Roasted Salsa and Sweet Potato
Tacos... again (July 2009)Tacos al Pastor with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Tacos with Beer-braised Carnitas Filling
Shredded Beef and Tripe Tacos

[eatingclub] vancouver Mexican
Tacos... then
Tacos... now
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Semi-Lime-cooked, Semi-Yucatecan Shrimp with Garlic Chips
Chicken, Broccoli and Cheese with Pipían Verde
Quickie Turkey Tortilla Soup
Tacos of Carnitas with Pineapple, with Roasted Salsa and Sweet Potato
Shrimp a la Mexicana (Camarones a la Plancha)
Enchiladas Verdes
Cilantro Horchata
Strawberry Cilantro Salsa, on Grilled Flank Steak
Mexican Ancho Guajillo Chicken
Chipotle Ground Turkey on Flour Tortilla
Tacos... again (July 2009)
Tacos al Pastor with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Tacos with Beer-braised Carnitas Filling
Shredded Beef and Tripe Tacos
Duck Enchiladas with Chipotle Peanut Salsa
Blueberry Tres Leches Cake
Crab Tostada
Homemade Mexican Chorizo Sausage
Torta (Mexican Sandwich)


  1. i just read from the top down. holy mackeral, holy guacamole, i mean, that was really quite the month of may.

    unbelievably delicious food. great posts.

  2. Thanks... we would've done a lot more, if it weren't for pesky distractions like... oh, I don't know... work!


  3. I am very impressed with the authenticity you all are trying to keep while introducing more Canadians to Mexican food. :) I would just like to comment that I live in Central Mexico, and to me, "rajas" are cooked poblano peppers, and they are usually served mixed with cream and corn during lent as a taco. A darn good taco, at that. You should try it for your next taco night!

  4. Anon:
    Thanks for stopping by! Mexican food is definitely something we would like to cook & eat more of. Thanks for the info! =) As it happens, we have a couple of poblanos in the house!


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