Mexican Tacos. Traditional Mexican tacos are corn or wheat tortillas which are filled with a filling usually prepared with some kind of meat.
The Taco is probably one of the most recognizable dishes found in Mexican cuisine. Traditional Mexican tacos are corn or wheat tortillas which are filled with a filling usually prepared with some kind of meat and folded in the hand when eaten. This is an incredibly versatile dish that where any kind of food, including vegetables, cheese and a variety of meat are used while often accompanied by a salsa, guacamole and spices.
The word ‘taco’ is derived from the Mexican Spanish word meaning literally "a plug" but also has the meaning of light snack. Today, it is not clear why this word was used to describe a snack, as the origins of the dish date back to before Spanish colonization. Authentic Mexican tacos were eaten by the Aztecs and other indigenous civilizations much in the same way that Europeans use bread, broken into small pieces and used to gather up food, with their meals.
Traditionally Mexican tacos were mainly eaten in rural areas of the country, with each region having creating their own specialties and varieties. Peasants and laborers would use tacos as a practical way to wrap up their lunch. With migration to urban areas from the country, tacos would become an even more common phenomenon and soon street stalls selling tacos became widespread throughout the city.
Recipe for Tacos
The recipe for Mexican tacos is very simple and begins with the ever present Mexican tortilla. To make the tortilla all you need is Masa Harina ( a special corn flour available in ethnic supermarkets, salt and warm water. Here is a basic corn tortilla recipe:
4 cups Masa Harina
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/4 tsp of salt
- Put the salt in the warm water. Stir thoroughly, making sure it dissolves.
- Pour the Masa Harina in a large mixing bowl, and slowly add the water, while mixing with a spoon or with your hands. Continue to do this until a soft dough forms. Form into about 20 small balls.
- Heat a non-stick pan. Whilst it is heating, flour a surface and flatten the balls forming flat circular shapes. Using a tortilla press is ideal, but can shape them with a rolling pin.
- Carefully place the first taco into the pan. The dough will begin to dry at the edges, so after about 30 seconds, flip it and cook the other side. Repeat this procedure, cooking each side for a minute.
- The taco should be slightly puffy but still flexible when done.
- Remove from the pan, and repeat the process with the next one.
While tortillas themselves are only made of a few ingredients, the ingredients for taco fillings are almost endless and vary greatly depending on the region or what you feel like eating. Some examples include: tacos de asador, filled with roast meat, served with two overlapped small tacos and garnished with guacamole, salsa and onions; ‘mulita’ tacos, which consist of meat and Oaxaca style cheese and are typically served in the Northern states; ‘gringas tacos from the southern states of Mexico made with wheat; and fish or shrimp or fish tacos from Baja California with snapper (or any other firm fleshed fish) lettuce, sour cream and a citrus sauce.
There are many different varieties of Mexican tacos with the limit really depend on you and your imagination. Whatever you decide to use, this simple and satisfying dish will surely not disappoint.