If you’ve been longing to sit on a beach in Mexico with the sun shining, mariachi band playing and taco in hand, we can help you get one step closer: by making tacos! (Our AAA travel advisors can help with the Mexico part.)
Here in the Northeast, many of us are used to the Americanized, Tex-Mex version of the taco. Often packaged as a kit in the grocery store, it’s usually ground beef in a hard shell, topped with chopped lettuce, diced tomato and a dollop of sour cream. While it’s not a bad choice, it does stray from more authentic street tacos you might find in Mexico or California.
So, exactly how do you make the “best” taco? However you like it! Give these tips a try on your next taco night.
Soft corn or flour tortillas are the way to go. But steer clear of heating them up in a microwave. Simply lay your tortilla over your grill or the flame on your gas stove. Have an induction range? No problem. Heating the tortilla in a pan over medium heat for a couple minutes works just as well; just watch your fingers and flip with a pair of tongs.
Street tacos have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The small shell is just big enough to fit in your hand and – the best part – it allows you to have multiple servings and types of tacos in one meal.
Even though you’re making tacos at home, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a full menu of options. Just like your favorite restaurant, you can mix it up with chorizo, short ribs, steak, grilled chicken, brisket or veggies. Try one or try them all! Go for mahi mahi, shrimp or fried scallops to keep it light.
When you want something a little more traditional, marinate skirt steak with the juice of one orange and one lime, cilantro, garlic, onions and a dash of soy sauce to make homemade carne asada. Sauté pork that you’ve marinated in lemon and pineapple juice and you’ve got tacos al pastor.
Here’s where it really gets fun. When making tacos you have all the freedom in the world (or in your fridge) to add whatever toppings you like. You can stick with white onion, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, or you can get a little more adventurous. Jicama slaw, red cabbage, queso, chopped cilantro, grilled pineapple and fresh mango are are all possibilities to mix and match.
To add some tang and crunch to your taco, add pickled veggies, such as carrots, jalapenos or radishes. Red onions are especially quick and easy to pickle at home. If you want to be a bit more adventurous, try pickled nopales, aka cactus.
Sauces and Salsas
Homemade sauces and salsas are also great ways to personalize your tacos. They are easier to make than you think, and healthier.
Chop up a bundle of cilantro with white onion and fresh tomatoes for a quick pico de gallo. Want something with more of a kick? Try mango salsa. Just add fresh jalapenos to diced mango and bell peppers and top with a squeeze of lime and cilantro.
The Defined Dish’s Tomatillo-Avocado Salsa is the perfect combination of light and bright with a kick of spice. But don’t add too much. One big faux pas of making tacos is overstuffing or over saucing. No one wants salsa running down their arm.
It’s been said that you eat with your eyes first. Now that you have some tips on how to make the best tacos, you can start planning how you’d like to to present them.
Start off with a festive table runner and a set of small bowls to hold all your different toppings. When it comes to plating, make use of a taco stand for less mess. Colorful glasses will also make your tablescape pop.
Finally, every taco-loving kitchen needs a mortar and pestle for making homemade guacamole. You don’t even need to transfer it to another bowl!
Shop for these items below and discover even more finds for your next fiesta on our Amazon Storefront.
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Picturing yourself on that beach in Mexico yet? Tell us your taco tips in the comments.
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