I’ve been meaning to do a taco post for ages. It’s one of our dinner staples here these days. I’ve made beef tacos that were browned in the wok, then marinated in the jus from the de-glazing, sliced thinly and sauteed in garlic, onion and chilies. I’ve also done pulled pork ones and ground beef ones. All have been awesome and utterly Sino-friendly.
About 3 years ago, we spent some time in Mexico before moving to Shanghai. It was there that I discovered the glories of piping hot soft tacos with spicy shredded beef and fresh salsa. These were tiny little flour tortillas the size of your palm, not the hard shells and certainly not those gargantuan wraps that you find in the supermarkets. They weren’t drowned in sour cream or fake cheddar. They were very simple and very good.
Each little tortilla we found at street stalls had a dollop of something meaty (or beany) on it- maybe sauteed chorizo or shredded chicken or grilled beef or pork or some crispy body part hacked up into bite sized pieces- and was served with a few fresh salsas (verde, roja, fresca), cilantro, lime, maybe some onion. I was partial to the salsa verde but you can’t get fresh tomatillos here. They were magnificent.
What we do here is very similar, or at least as similar as you can get when living in China.
For the tortilla, I tend to use my Xinjiang noodle dough (3 cups flour, 1 cup water, 2 teaspoons salt, mix, knead, rest, roll-out) and roll it out very, very thinly. You could also try this one or this one. The thinness lets it puff up like a chapati in the wok and gives it a soft airiness that is delicious and chewy.
I make my own salsa fresca with cherry tomatoes, cilantro, onion and chilies, marinated a few hours with lime juice (when limes are available) and a bit of crunchy kosher salt. If you can’t get fresh limes, then lemons will do, as will Chinese rice wine vinegar.
Those are the basics.
Today I want to show you how to make spicy shredded beef in the crock pot to go in the tacos. The recipe said it’d take 10 hours but mine was done in barely 5 hours. Go figure. (more…)