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Cooking Mexican Food: The Basics

Tips on Making Tacos

Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to eat good Mexican food on a regular basis because the person I was living was had learned to cook from his Mexican grandmother. I have to admit that I became a little snobby about my Mexican food. No more Taco Hell, and no more Taco del Mar either. Truthfully, only the best taco trucks around town survive my intense taco scrutiny (unless I’m extremely hungry at which point all rules about my food intake change).


In addition to my pickiness about Mexican food, I seem to have actually picked up a few basics about cooking Mexican food. While I’m not at liberty to disclose his grandmother’s top-secret recipe for the most delicious Spanish rice you’ve ever tasted, I can pass along a few simple Mexican food tips for the gringas and gringoes out there who are on my cooking level.


First, and most importantly, throw out your taco seasoning now. Lawry’s is WAY too salty and contains all kinds of strange ingredients that have zero to do with making tacos. Instead, use some sort of combination of cayenne pepper and cumin for seasoning. There are other spices you can use, but those are the basics that will get you through every time.


Second, if you are making beef tacos with ground beef, please add in some minced garlic with the ground beef. It makes the tacos taste 100% better. If you plan on making chicken tacos, pre-roasted chicken is really tastier than just stir-frying some skinless boneless chicken breasts. (I didn’t believe it for a long time myself, but it’s true.)


Third, don’t buy the crappy pre-made taco shells. If you can stand a little grease, use corn tortillas, stick them in a frying pan on medium heat, and dowse them with olive oil. Fry until half-crispy and then use a spatula to fold them in half. Voila. You have taco shells (that are probably just as unhealthy) that taste much better than the hard store-bought tacos that always seem to go stale.


Fourth, cilantro is your friend. (Unless, of course, you are one of those strange people who consider themselves squarely in the cilantro-coriander hating crowd.) Put fresh cilantro in your salsa and your tacos to give your tacos an extra oomph. I’m not exactly sure why, but cilantro and spicy food go together pretty well.


Granted, these are just the Mexican food basics, but that’s really all I’m at liberty to disclose right now.