International Foods : The World of Tacos

Tacos are Known Globally by Other Names

Tacos are widely known as a Mexican staple dish and authentic Mexican tacos use chunks or shredded beef and not any ground meat at all. They are delicious for anyone that likes to eat meat. As always, my favorite meat substitution is grilled chunks of eggplant. In Tex-Mex and and American tacos, ground beef or chuck, or ground turkey are all good.

In many parts of the world, flat breads are used to scoop up meats, vegetables, and sauces and are not called "tacos." In some places, the bread is called "nan" and Indian food is delicious when enjoyed in this manner. Korean Barbeque can be packed into a flour tortilla with bean sprouts and shredded asian cabbage and carrots for good eats. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews used unleavened bread about 4,000 years ago when they fled persecution from the local secular ruler. However, documentation of actual Mexican Tacos has been found dating back to at least 6,000 years ago. Native Americans made "fry bread" of both dsavory and sweet varieties for their meals as well.

Today in East LA, Taco Trucks must run for their lives! Taco Trucks are limited to 60 minutes in any one spot, or suffer steep fines and even jail time. There is a move by some in government to do away with them permanently.

Saveourtacotrucks.org founders Chris Rutherford and Aaron Sonderleiter are gathering petitions to save the Taco Truck.

Source
Flour torillas
Flour torillas | Source
Source

Taco Wrappers

The old-country Spanish word for tortilla is torta, meaning a plain round cake. today's tortilla is simply unleavened flatbread of corn or wheat flour.

The First Nations of Mexico, namely the Aztecs, seem to have been the first people to produce flour and make tortillas.

The ancient map shown above is the same that introduces my History of the USA Hub Series and clearly shows Mexico as "New Spain."

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Cups of flour (Mexican or self rising)
  • 1/4 Cup shortening, lard, or butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup warm water
  • olive or vegetable oil for frying

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Mix 1 cup flour, shortening, and salt
  • toss with a fork until crumbly-moist.
  • Add warm water gradually, until a sticky dough is made
  • Add remaining 1 cup flour, gradually, stirring well with each addition
  • Knead the dough until elastic
  • Set aside, covered, one hour or until 1.5 in size
  • Punch down and makesmall balls
  • Roll flat using a large dowl, cylindrical glass, or rolling pin
  • Frying over medium heat until bubbles are golden, flip and cook for another 30 seconds.

"New Spain"

1562 Map of America, by Diego Gutirrez (public domain). Click to Enlarge.
1562 Map of America, by Diego Gutirrez (public domain). Click to Enlarge.

Anthony Bourdain: Tacos in Piedras Negras "Mexico's Door"

Chinese Fried Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork or beef, minced or cooked & shredded
  • 1/4 Cup celery, minced
  • 1/2 Cup onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp dried Oriental mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lite soy sauce
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • Won Ton wrappers
  • Oil for deep frying

Instructions

  • Chop and soak oriental mushrooms in water.
  • Combine meat, celery, onion, mushrooms, white pepper, soy sauce, cilantro, and curry powder; mix well.
  • Place 1 teaspoon of filling slightly off-center on a won ton wrapper.
  • Fold wrapper over to make a rectangle.
  • Crimp open edges and press to seal.
  • Fry in deep oil heated to 375 Degrees F until golden brown

Taco Truck Improvements Create Problems

Asian Pork Taco

Makes 12 Tacos

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lb Large pork shoulder cut into 2-3 chunks
  • 1/2 cup Teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 cup Stir-fry sauce
  • 1/4 cup Hoison sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp 5-spice powder
  • 2 Large cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 1 bunch Fresh cilantro (garnish)
  • 1 pound pack of Cole Slaw mix or broccoli slaw mix
  • 12 Soft flour tortillas

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together except pork, cole slaw, and tortillas.
  • Put pork into a plastic bag or bowl and add mix so that pork is completely covered. Seal bag or bowl (with a lid) and refrigerate 12 hours.
  • Add meat and juices to a dutch oven or crock pot.
  • Cover and cook on low 6 - 8 hours.
  • Transfer meat to cutting board and shred.
  • Spoon meat into tortillas with slaw mix.
  • Spoon juice from pot over the meat and top with cilantro.
  • Roll or fold tortilla.

MCTV - Only Taco!

Ground Chuck Tacos

Ground chuck is great in this recipe, but sometimes I use stewing beef, cut into smaller bites. Shredded leftover potroast is good forthis recipe and even barbecue shredded beef is a tasty change.

Try Barbecue Beef and Coleslaw in a taco shell!

Ingredients

  • 10 Taco shells
  • 1 larger tomato
  • 2 ½ cups shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • Taco sauce or Salsa
  • Sour Cream
  • Lime Wedges

Instructions

  • Slice tomato into bite size pieces.
  • Place into a small bowl.
  • Put shredded lettuce in another small bowl.
  • Put shredded cheese into a third small bowl.
  • Crumble ground meat into the skillet and brown it in olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Drain excess fat.
  • Add taco seasoning simmer until heated.
  • Assemble tacos by with meat mixture, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese.
  • Serve with the condiments.

Chicken Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon oilve oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 1 pound bag frozen broccoli, red peppers, onions and mushrooms, thawed
  • 1/2 cup stir-fry sauce
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • Additional stir-fry sauce
  • Salsa, if desired

Directions:

  • In a skillet or wok, heat oil over high heat.
  • Add the chicken; cook and stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes until no longer pink in center. Remove from heat.
  • Cut vegetables into 1/2-inch pieces and add to chicken in skillet.
  • Cook toss over medium-high heat 2 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender; drain well.
  • Add 1/2 cup stir-fry sauce to the pan; toss 2 minutes until hot.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of the chicken over half of each tortilla.
  • Fold tortilla in half.
  • Serve with additional stir-fry sauce or salsa.

Tacos on Good Food TV

FAST Shrimp Tacos

INGREDIENTS

  • Flour Tortillas
  • 1lb 41-60 size Shrimp (precooked)
  • 1 Large Avocado sliced
  • 1 Cup chopped Red Onion
  • 1/3 Cup chopped fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Whole Lime
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper
  • Salt and Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pre Warm Tortillas
  • Add oil & onions to pan on medium high heat and stir until brown and caramelized - 10 minutes.
  • Add shrimp , cilantro, cumin , chili powder, red pepper, salt and pepper to taste and stir about 3 minutes. Do not overcook.
  • Add all avocado slices and squeeze fresh lime over all ingredients and stir 1 minute.
  • Serve in warm tortilla wrappers. Add light cheeses if you like.

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Comments & Ideas 15 comments

Pam Pounds profile image

Pam Pounds 8 years ago from So Cal Girl in the Midwest!

Yum...thank you, Patti, for the background of the taco, and more recipes for me to try! There is also a traditional fish taco, made with white fish (usually cod), that is breaded and topped with cole slaw.

Very interesting!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I saw that taco on TV. I'll have to try it. Thanks for commenting!


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

i'm a torta lover from way back.  It's rumored that I cut my teeth on tacos.  While living in Harlingen area and Edinburg Texas in my way younger than now years, I was the Queen of shopping for "Patos" at a local Mexican Diner.  Those precious pockets of homemade on the spot tortas melted in your mouth down to the last drop of guisada gravy.  The tender beef chunks dissolved on your tongue with just the right amount of garlic, onion, cheese and potatoes.  OH MY GOD  I can still taste them.  I ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and gained 30 lbs. 

That got my attention.  I did not quit eating them, but I did walk the weight back off.   Homemade tortas melt in your mouth and taste nothing like the tough ones in the store.

THANK you for these great recipes.  I had not heard of the Asian tacos and you can bet I'm trying all of these.


Nicki B profile image

Nicki B 8 years ago from Orange County, Ca

Oh... I'm hungry :) Time to go to Rigoberto's...


Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

I like fish tacos every once in awhile. Rattlesnake tacos, huh? I wonder if it tastes just like chicken.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Fish tacos are delicious, and I am so starving after reading this Hub, Patty! I'm with Stacie... wondering abou the rattlesnake tacos. Hmmm... Not for me. Steph


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Hey Stacie & Steph - I guess you get used to what is avaiable in your own area, although I would never be able to eat pig snout, as my Asian friends do!

The old Big Bear grocery strores here used to carry tinned rattlesnake meat in their "foreign foods" aisle in the 1960s, but I never tasted it. This is where our teacher found all the chocolate covered insects she gave us to try.

I wonder if rattle snake is anything like alligator meat, which takes like a mild sausage to me.

Marisue - those tortas sound wonderful. Do you make any yourself now?

Nicki - Thanks for posting!


dabblingmum 8 years ago

I LOVE_E_E_E_E_E, (Did I say love?) hispanic food. I grew up on it in the projects of Pedro. Yumm! Definitely going to have to try these recipes. Thanks


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I am glad they sound good to you, because you are accustomed to the genuine article. Tahnks!


thegecko profile image

thegecko 8 years ago from San Diego, CA


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I'd forgotten!! Thanks for reminding me. SOOOOOO Funny!! I've seen something like that at a Diner on TV though. They did skip the pizza layer, however. lol


Pete Michner profile image

Pete Michner 8 years ago from Virginia

Thanks for the great hub! Once in San Diego I went to a place that had fish tacos. "That sounds gross," I thought to myself, but they were actually very good!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

Another vote for fish tacos. I will try them on Sunday.


Stacie Naczelnik profile image

Stacie Naczelnik 8 years ago from Seattle

One of the things I love about fish tacos is the sauce.  I don't know if all fish tacos have it, but the ones I have eaten always have some kind of white (I think it's white, or whitish)sauce with/on them.  Honestly, I love anything messy--and fish tacos are that.  When I was growing up, my mom used to make us "messy tacos" which were really just over-stuffed burritos. She said that if our hands weren't messy, they weren't made right.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

That sounds both fun and delicious! That's when I get large towel and tie it around my neck to eat - burritos or sphagetti.

I wonder if the fish taco sauce is different from tartar sauce -- I have heard of one made from youurt, cucumbers and dill or cilantro with lemon juice. I am going to experiment now, so thanks for the idea.

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