WE GO CRAZY FOR TACOS in this house. Our favorite taco joint in Vancouver is La Taqueria
We especially love all the sauces and toppings. We usually scarf down 4-5 tacos of all different types but when making them at home I can usually only stand to make 2 kinds. But I have to have at least two kinds. Just ’cause it’s so much more fun that way! It’s all about mixing and matching the accoutrements to make your taste buds happy dappy!
Carnitas is an absolute favorite! When I make more I shall post as well (pulled chicken, ground bison or elk, poblano & corn, peppers & mushrooms, Baja fish….eventually I want to attempt a mole!) . I have a small note about an easy baked fish taco below as you can use most of the same toppings for it (it also features in the photo beside the lovely plated Carnitas taco)! Just add some toasted pumpkins seeds and use the verde rather than the roja.
Original inspirations in the links beside each recipe.
Carnitas: Carnitas from NEW YORK TIMES
As per usual I mark my changes (*) thusly.
And if you want to follow the originals by all means go for it! But the verde is my own 🙂
- Pork (combo of fatty belly* and de-boned chop* cut into chunks) – I grabbed two small packages and that was enough to make a lot of carnitas! But used how much you feel you need!
- Strips of orange or tangelo* zest from one piece of fruit (I loved this with tangelo, but if you can’t find use an orange with a nice skin)
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 red* onion, chopped
- 1 cinnamon stick (or a few dashes of cinnamon)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons crushed dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoons good salt, more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves ( I wouldn’t use whole cloves as they would be a pain to dig out of the mix later on!)
- 1 dried chili* (any Mexican dried red chili will do, Ancho for example! – again you can leave out if cooking for kids)
- water to cover
Put everything in a pot, bring to a boil then simmer on medium low for a long time until water has all evaporated. (Take out the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, and any zest that hasn’t broken down). Keep cooking the pork in the pan and star using two large forks to shred it. The fat from the pork belly will help create some crispy bits. Cook until the all the pork is shredded and has golden brown bits to it.
See photos for the steps!
Salsa Roja: Salsa Roja from Saveur
- R – 2 cloves garlic
- R – 2 tomatoes
- R – 1 jalapeño
- R – white or red onion (1/4 – 1/2 depending how large)
- B – 2 dried chipotle peppers toasted in pan and then simmered to soften (or 2 of your favorite dried Mexican chilis)
- B – 2 dried guajillo peppers toasted in pan and then simmered to soften (or 2 of your favorite dried Mexican chilis)
- B – 1 cup fresh cilantro (post roasting and optional in my opinion!)
- B – good salt, to taste
- B – Dash apple cider vinegar* (adds a punch)
- B – Drizzle honey* to balance the acidity if you feel it needs it!
Roast everything marked with “R” in oven til golden brown bits form. Try 400F and check after 15 mins.
Once cooled blend with everything that has a “B” beside it. Season to taste.
Salsa Verde: (after trying a few diff recipes I created my own version!)
- R – 3 or 4 Tomatillos cut into chunks (take out the little nub from the stems of course and peel off the leafy outer layer)
- R – Red onion
- R – 2-4 cloves of garlic
- R – 1 Jalepeno (stem cut off, or de-seeded for less heat)
- R – 2 Serrano peppers (stem cut off, or de-seeded for less heat)
- R – dash cumin
- R -sprinkling of good salt
- R -cracked pepper
- R – Olive oil for roasting
- B – Apple cider vinegar (try a small splash and adjust to taste)
- B – Fresh cilantro (washed and dried)
- B – Jalepeno/green hot sauce to taste
- B – Fresh lime juice ( to taste)
- B – drizzle honey (to balance acidity if needed)
Roast everything marked with “R” in oven til golden brown bits form. Try 400F and check after 15 mins. Once cooled blend with everything that has a “B” beside it.
Chipotle Crema: (my own!)
- Full fat whipping cream 36% equal parts
- Full fat sour cream 14% equal parts
- Chipotle in Adobo (as much as you can stand)
- Chipotle hot sauce (as much as you can stand)
- Dash smoked salt (optional)
Blend Chipotle into the sour cream and whipping cream. Then beat til whippy!
Pickled Onions: Pickled Red Onions from Saveur
- 1 Tbsp. good salt
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1 tsp whole rainbow or black peppercorns
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 1⁄2 cups red wine vinegar
- As many fresh jalepenos*, seeded and sliced as you want
Stick everything in a jar and let it sit in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours. Over night is better.
You can also make a jar of pickled cauliflower, jalepeno and carrots for more tangy pickled fun!
Other stuff you will need/want for your tacos:
- Fresh corn tortillas (warmed/softened)
- Fresh cilantro
- Thinly sliced cabbage
- Fresh limes for squeezing on top
- Pumpkin seeds (if also making a fish taco)
NOTE: For the fish taco pictured below. Just bake some nice white firm fish in the oven with some taco spice ( I like Cape Herb & Spice myself) or you could pan fry it. If you want a crispy fish just dip into some batter or an egg wash/panko coating and fry or bake. Next time I make it I will pay attention to temperatures and times. But if you need to know now! GOOGLE works 😉