People who have never eaten an authentic taco have no idea what they are missing. There are several varieties of authentic Latino tacos, none of which resemble the Ortega taco kit or typical Taco Bell order. That hard, prefabricated corn shell is an American invention, right there with shredded lettuce and that thick, heavy sour cream.
The form I most often get at home is closest to Tacos de Asador, or "grill tacos". This is taco simplicity - grilled meat and peppers stuffed in a soft tortilla with onions, cilantro, and salsa fresca with a little crema Mexicana on the side.
Tacos de Asador
My counterpart made salsa yesterday, so it had plenty of time to season overnight in the fridge. A good salsa is also fairly simple. He made ours out of those little grape tomatoes. Grape tomatoes are particularly nice in salsa because they allow more tomato skin to be incorporated into it. This is where most of the natural sweetness in the tomato is, and a pint of grape tomatoes add more flavor to salsa fresca than a big old beefsteak tom. He pureed these in a food processor, then added jalapeno peppers, white onion, and a little fresh citrus juice. Typically, he uses lime, but this weekend's salsa included the juice from a sweet lemon we found at the H-Mart during our weekly Saturday adventure. The sweeter lemon juice gave the salsa a light freshness that was almost sunny and accented the spicy peppers providing extra depth of flavor. He used the food processor to combine everything and tossed in some fresh cilantro at the end that he mixed in by hand.
Salsa Fresca con Lemon
For tonight's tacos, he made a simple carne asada out of fresh rib eye steak. He sliced it thin and cooked it on the stove top in a little grape seed oil with sliced jalapenos that were dusted with salt and sugar to accent their spice without adding too much heat.
Carne asada con jalapeno
As spring gives way to summer, we will be well-stocked with soft corn tortillas. For tonight, we used small flour fajita tortillas, folding them around the steak and peppers and cilantro leaves.
Served with the salsa and a bit of rice, this more traditional taco has a fresh taste with a nice zing from the peppers and the citrus-laden salsa. It's much lighter that its American cousin and is good food whether in the heat of summer or while the last gasp of winter attempts one final snowfall.
Beef tacos with salsa, crema Mexicana, rice, and a little grated cheese, because we are Americans after all