Alert readers of this column know I don’t do fast-food. I’ll do take-out or pizza delivery but I draw the line at drive-thru windows and burgers in paper wrappers.
But I have a confession to make.
My buddy Stinky Pete and I were cruising back home a few weeks ago from the Neil Diamond concert and we stopped at the Taco Bell around one in the morning. It was a moment of weakness, maybe it was the bong being passed down our row, maybe it was the thermos of margaritas we smuggled in to the show, but when it comes down to it, nothing says Taco Bell at one a.m. like Neil Diamond, primo ganja and margaritas.
The truth is, I love a good taco. But they have to be street tacos from a stall or a food truck, not fast food tacos. The taco is a traditional Mexican snack, made from seasoned beef, pork, chicken, seafood, along with shredded lettuce, black olives, onions, tomatoes and topped with salsa, sour cream or guacamole. All piled in to a fried corn tortilla or folded in a flour tortilla. That’s it, very simple, but good to eat. Some taco stands top theirs with sliced radish, cucumber, lime or grilled chilies.
The first recorded taco party was a bash thrown by natives in Tenochtitlán for explorer Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors. Back then in the Valley of Mexico, tacos were assembled using fresh fish and there were no counters or self-serve soft-drink machines to deal with.
But the taco has evolved since then. Tacos de Asadore, or grilled tacos, Tacos Sudados which are steamed, Taco Baracoa or chicken tacos, and of course Tacos de Camarones, or tacos made with shrimp.
But I want to live mas, think outside the bun, and make a run for the border to find the cure for the common meal. Yo quiero Taco Diferente.
In California, they’re making waffle tacos.
Beach Shack Waffle Tacos
4 Waffles, Use Eggo’s if you like, don’t toast them too crispy
1 Cup Taco Beef or Shredded Chicken, Cooked
½ Cup Lettuce, Shredded
10 Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, Halved
¼ Cup Sour Cream
¼ Cup Roasted Salsa
¼ Cup Queso Fresco, Shredded
3 Tbs. Maple Syrup
Stuff all the ingredients in individual waffle and fold. Top with maple syrup.
Citizens of Chicago are familiar with pepper n’ eggs sandwiches during the Lent season so why not jazz them up and make them a taco treat?
Pepper n’ Egg Taco
¼ Cup Olive Oil
1 Onion, Thinly Sliced
2 Bell Peppers, Julienne
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
4 Eggs, Beaten
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, Grated
Sea Salt/Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Soft Flour Tacos
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions and peppers. Allow to soften the add garlic.
Combine the eggs, cheese, salt and pepper and mix well. Pour in to skillet, scrambling until eggs are set.
Serve on a warmed soft taco and top with giardiniera.
Tired of boring fish tacos? Everybody and their brother are doing them in “Mexican” restaurants. Here’s cool twist on the fish taco that has nothing to with Mexican food except the shells.
Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos
1 6 Oz. Tuna Steak, ¾ Inch Thick
2 Tbs. Sesame Oil
2 Tbs. Soy Sauce
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Tsp. Fresh Lime Juice
2 Scallions, Chopped
Hard Taco Shells
Wasabi Cream Sauce;
3 Tbs. Mayo
3 Tbs. Sour Cream
2 Tsp. Fresh Horseradish
2 Tsps. Wasabi Powder
2 Tsps. Fresh Lemon Juice
Cracked Black Pepper
Fresh Chopped Cilantro
Finely Sliced Scallions
Combine the marinade ingredients and marinade tuna for 1 hour.
For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and refrigerate.
In a non-stick pan sear the tuna for 2 minutes per side until rare. Remove from pan and slice in to ¼ inch slices.
Place them in taco shells, top with whatever you want and finish with wasabi cream.
That was a gruesome night after the Neil Diamond concert. I still remember what I said to the teenage gal behind the counter after I paid and she handed me the greasy bag with the bell on it.
“This never happened.” Check out the slideshow and video for some more exciting tacos.