It's Sunday guys! Which means it's time to turn up the stereo and do some fun experimenting. We woke up super late because we were working on editing the blog all night. Out of the blue, Gus was like, "I feel like tacos." Haha! Of course, leave it to Jenny who's childhood in Texas got her some taco making intuitions!
Honestly, my taco making journey started when I was in Switzerland for college and I occasionally had cravings for tex-mex taco. Back then, it was super expensive to eat out at any ethnic restaurants with the inflated Swiss franc currency, so I'd rather save the eating out occasions for Thai food or Chinese food which can substantially satisfy my food cravings more than just tex-mex tacos.
Luckily, Migros and Coop (Switzerland's supermarkets) had an ethnic ingredient section. Good thing for us, 1/4 of the section was dedicated to mexican food (glad the Swiss are quite cultured). In particular, taco kits, burrito kits, salsa, tortilla, etc. So, I was saved. For a while, resorting to the imported packaged tex-mex food was sufficient. But as my palate continued to evolve, store bought stuff wasn't good enough for me any longer.
It started with a summer break home visit to Texas. Tasting the fresh tacos made by Laredo Taqueria on Washington Avenue was an enlightening experience for me. I didn't even know taco can ever tasted this good! Thus begins my journey to hunt for tasty tacos. Since then, I've broaden my perspective on tex-mex food and expanded to various Latin-American cuisine. I've had my tries of phenomenal taco places, but as a curious person, I loved the challenge of attempting to reproduce and to improve those flavors that I've tasted.
Initially, cooking taco during the college days was a huge ordeal. I was dependent on canned ingredients and was literally using a 3-cup rice cooker to cook the taco meat! It's been a couple years since I've returned back to the states and fresh tex-mex ingredients are conveniently available. I started decreasing processed taco ingredients and pre-mixed taco seasonings, replaced them with homemade versions and combined my own spice mix. To this day, I've expanded my versatility in cooking tex-mex food, but I'm sure I still got more to learn.
Back to the present, Gus is asking for taco on a Sunday. Great. It looks like it's going to rain here in Chicago and I didn't want to head out to the grocery store for some tortilla. Believe it or not, many of the occasions that I do develop or happened to find good recipe is due to the fact that I'm too lazy to head out to buy the exact ingredient for a specific dish, and I ended up, resourcefully, using whatever is handy within our pantry or fridge.
Today is one of those day and I didn't have masa harina either. I personally prefer the taste of corn tortilla and felt like flour tortilla lacked the dept of characteristic to compliment the bold flavors from heavily seasoned meat. What I do have is blue cornmeal, close enough maybe? Looking around the internet, I found a cornmeal tortilla recipe by King Arthur Flour. I followed the recipe, of course, replacing the called for yellow cornmeal with blue cornmeal. The dough came out a little more sticky/wet than I would've liked so while I worked with the dough, splitting into individual tortilla portions and rolling them out, I had to frequently dust my hand and the surface to prevent the dough from tearing and sticking.
The final product came out great. Although, I would need to work on the rolling techniques and maybe find a round nonstick pan to create the perfect round tortilla. I actually used a Japanese tamago pan so the tortilla came out more of an oval/rectangle shape, to which I discovered that the oval shape is quite handy for taco making! If you don't believe this, then try shaping your tortilla into an oval/rectangle shape. The elongated length allows a sturdy hold of the taco fillings!
Aesthetically, the blue cornmeal tortilla makes a beautiful canvas for the rest of the taco ingredients. The sweet note from the cornmeal is an interesting contrast to the overall salty and spicy explosion of flavors. Since cornmeal is grainy and dense, the tortilla came out a bit coarse and chewy. The cornmeal dough had time to absorb the liquid ingredient and hardened, resting for about 30 minutes. I like the notion of a blue cornmeal tortilla, however, I think I would attempt the recipe again with the following modifications 1) use a food processor to decrease the size of the cornmeal particles 2) either add more flour or cornmeal to the current ingredient proportion and reduce the dough's stickiness (I would go with more cornmeal because I like the sweetness it provides) and decrease resting time 3) add more salt to accentuate the sweetness of the cornmeal (thinking of something like salted caramel).
So, what's your opinion foodie experts?
Two amateur cooks creating and tasting dishes from our lovely city of Chicago. Follow our world wide adventure as we discover ingredients, dishes, recipes, and the foodie way of life.
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