The secret to get ethnic foods isn’t where it’s made. It’s not where it’s served. It isn’t even necessarily who makes it. Well, Ok, who makes it matters but it’s not to say you can’t make it too… The real secret is guidance, technique, tools, and the combination of flavor. However the biggest secret is the one or two key ingredients that make all the difference.
I discovered these truths first when making everything from Thai Curry to Stir-fry’s. Then as I ventured into other cuisines I found little things like pomegranate molasses and rose wanter could make such huge differences. As I started looking at the things I like to eat and cook I got thinking about Mexican food as well as the whole latin food scene. Only a couple times have I had good Mexican food and I have to say when it’s done well it’s amazing!
Back in November when I had my birthday bonus I bought a heap of cookbooks. One of those books was “Tacos.” This book is all about “street tacos” but these are fresh, interesting, and delicious!
With this time of year being all about beef I knew the first recipe I had to try was Skirt Steak Tacos with Mojo De Ajo. Not only that but I had to make my own tortillas too… So for this I set out to make soft corn tortillas and my steak filling. Even before I could think about making them I had to purchase a tortilla press. Next, I had to purchase Masa Harina.
Once I had the necessary tools and ingredients I put together my shopping list. Having had so much luck with our great Asian Food Store I also set out on finding a great hispanic grocer. I did a little digging and found one worth checking out. Bingo! We had a winner! This grocer was great and offered a wide section of ingredients that can get hard to source.
Yesterday I set out on putting it all together. It started with making the Mojo De Ajo. Basically it’s a garlic oil but, wow, is it so much more! Using árbol chilies, Mexican oregano, black peppercorns you make a toasted spice mixture. Then mine up 2 heads of garlic and add it to a cup of olive oil. Cook until the garlic starts to change color to a golden hue. Then add in your spices, juice of an orange and a tomato that has been diced. This is the “magic” sauce.
This recipe does call for it to be grilled outdoors but since I live in norther Iowa and it’s the dead of winter there was no way that was happening. So instead I put some of the sauce on a large cookie sheet, I then laid out my skirt steak, poured more sauce over it and kept repeating until all my beef was on the cookie sheet.
I then chopped up some white onion and used the remainder of the sauce and sautéd until the onions were soft and beginning to caramelize. I finished off the steak buy cooking it in batches on the stove. While I did all that my husband figured out how to make soft corn tortillas mixing the masa harina with water, kneaded it into a soft playable ball and pulled off pieces to press into the tortillas.
Once all that was done we sat to lunch. WOW, were the tacos amazing. Maybe some of the best Mexican food I have had in a LONG time! The flavors worked so well and the tortillas were just the right amount of bite all the while staying soft. I did also pick up some store bought guac. I do love to make my own but for this lunch I went with a fresh store bought version that we don’t feel too guilty about eating and I also picked up some gorilla chips at the Mexican Grocer. Now we can’t wait to explore all the fun and interesting flavors of tacos to come throughout this book. Next up? Pastrami Tacos? Stay tuned!