5 Tips for Making Better Tacos
Build your tastiest tacos ever with these easy cooking tips from Toronto chefs Jonathan Hamilton and Rossy Earle.
1. Start With the Right Foundation
Chef Jonathan Hamilton (JH): Use 100% corn tortillas as your base when possible. They’re more traditional and authentic. If you’re making very large tacos, however, you might want tortillas with a little wheat flour-the gluten holds them together better.
Chef Rossy Earle (RE): Heat the tortillas in a skillet with a drop of oil, 15-20 seconds on each side. They taste better warm and not so mealy.
2. Add Protein
JH: You could use cod-battered and fried-braised pork or any kind of grilled seasoned meat.
RE: Try something crazy: I’ve used duck confit and even alligator.
3. Improve Your Salsa Selection
JH: Choose good ingredients. The difference between a mango or an avocado that’s ripe and one that’s not ripe is like night and day. At the market or store, you can tell by feeling if they’re soft enough.
RE: Everything should not taste the same in your taco. If you have a tomato-basted meat, don’t add more tomato in the salsa. My wildest taco involved smoked peach salsa with chili-lime pickled jicama.
4. Find the Perfect Heat Level
JH: Taste things! Jalapenos from the market could be like green peppers one day and hot as habaneros the next. You need to adjust quantities accordingly.
RE: Find a hot sauce that’s more about flavour than heat: one that gives you a hit of heat, then it’s gone, not burning for hours. – Rossy Earle
5. Finish with Something Extra
JH: Think about the balance of textures. Try adding something smooth, like a cream or avocado, if you’re working with a grilled meat. If the meat’s braised, add something crunchy like pumpkin seeds.
RE: Colour is important. Add something bright, like roasted red peppers, or fresh lime on the side.
La Carnita started out as a pop-up selling limited-edition tacos with a side of limited-edition artwork, $10 for the two. This year it found a fixed address in Toronto’s west end, and Jonathan Hamilton became head chef of the Mexican street food-inspired restaurant.
Chef Rossy Earle is the creator of SupiCucú Latin American specialty foods. Her first offerings to go on sale are Diablo’s Fuego hot sauce and its sweeter sister sauce, Diabla’s Kiss.
(Chef Photos: Amit Dahan)