5 Tips For Authentic Mexican Tacos
5 Tips For Authentic Mexican Tacos
We can all agree that tacos are delicioso, & possibly one of the most versatile dishes in Mexico. But how do you make your tacos more authentic? There are a few simple yet important tips that will make all the difference.
This one is essential! Choose the right tortillas: traditional nixtamal corn tortillas.
You can’t have a great taco without a great tortilla, and not all tortillas are made equal. When it comes to getting real authentic Mexican taste in your dishes, getting your tortilla right is essential.
Let’s start with the basics: wheat or corn?
The vast majority of Mexican dishes use corn tortillas, not wheat. There are some exceptions in the cuisines of northern Mexico, but for the most part, a wheat tortilla is rare in Mexico. Here’s where you can find our nixtamal corn tortillas near you.
Which type of corn tortilla?
There are basically two ways of making corn tortillas: the original nixtamal method (like we do at La Torilleria) that’s been used by indigenous Mexicans since 1200 B.C, & the shortcut ‘masa harina’ (tortilla flour) method that was invented in the 1950s to help industrialise the tortilla-making industry.
Nixtamal tortillas will always taste better. Hands down. Not only that, it will also have better texture, malleability & strength, & is much healthier for both you & the planet. This is the original authentic way to make corn tortillas, & it’s an ancient culinary craft that is at risk of being lost to our modernising food systems.
If you want to know more about this, we highly recommend reading this incredibly interesting article – The Tortilla Cartel.
Double up your corn tortillas on your tacos.
In most parts of Mexico, your taco will almost always come on two tortillas, not one. Mexicans fondly refer to this as ‘la copia’ (literally: the copy). If you ask around, you’ll be given many reasons for this. But a popular explanation is that the second tortilla can be used to make another taco with any fillings that spill out the side. Other reasons include preventing a tortilla from breaking, or if you have a particularly moist filling, & others do it because corn tortillas are delicious – can’t argue with that!
So if you want your tacos to be super authentic, be a true Mexican & make them on two tortillas, not one.
Don’t make your tacos & quesadillas inside out.
This one is a pro tip for home cooks who really want to show off their expertise & knowledge of Mexican cuisine.
It’s a little known fact outside of Mexico that a corn tortilla has two distinct sides: a thin side & a thick side. Putting your food on the correct side is important if you want to show that you know what you’re doing, & if you want your taco, quesadilla, flauta or whatever you’re making to hold together well. The inner side of a tortilla is the side that is facing up when the tortilla first gets cooked on the comal’ (tortilla pan or belt). The heat causes this top layer to rise & because of gravity, it is thinner than the side which lays on the comal (the thick, outside). This thin side is the side you want to put the food on, as the thicker layer will be less likely to break or crack.
Are you using salad and cheese toppings on your tacos? Use diced onion & coriander instead.
In Mexico, tacos don’t have lettuce on them. Or tomatoes, Or cheese. Authentic tacos are filled with high-quality marinated meats (or vegetables), & are delicious as they are. They don’t need extra trimmings that you find on less traditional tacos. More often than not, the only toppings you’ll find on your street tacos are the ubiquitous & effective diced onion & coriander, & of course lots of salsa!
Exceptions to the rule:
Escabeche, sliced pickled onions on cochinita pibil, or the simple sliced avocado on Tacos de Tinga de Pollo, or shredded cabbage on Tacos de Pescado. Many tacos made with guisados also don’t have coriander & onion toppings. This doesn’t mean that shredded lettuce isn’t used at all in Mexican dishes. It’s just very rare to see it on tacos. Flautas, sopes, pozole, tostadas, & many other delicious dishes are commonly served up with fresh shredded lettuce.
Use salsa, & lots of it.
Let’s talk salsa. Salsa is everywhere in Mexico – Mexicans put it on almost everything, especially tacos. At taco stands it’s common to see a variety of salsas for customers to choose from, usually spread out from mildest to hottest. At the very least, a taco stand will have the two most popular: salsa roja (red) and salsa verde (green).
A taco without salsa is like pasta without sauce on it – it’s just weird. So if you want to be authentic, load your taco up with lots of it!
What are authentic Mexican salsas?
We’re not talking about the ‘chunky’ versus ‘smooth’ generic salsas you commonly find in the chip isle of your local supermarket. Real Mexican salsa is lightyears ahead of this & much more complex. Authentic chillies such as chile de arbol, habaneros, chipotle, serranos, & hundreds more are combined with ingredients like char-grilled tomatoes, tomatillos, coriander, avocado, onion, garlic, oils, vinegars & sometimes unique twists like tequila, beer or pulque (for salsa borracha or ‘drunk salsa’), or nuts & seeds for salsa macha. Listing these common salsa ingredients highlights why authentic Mexican salsas are so good!
Are authentic salsas spicy?
Whilst spicy salsas do exist in Mexico & are delicious (think Cholula sauce, El Yucateco sauce), these types of sauces are far more trendy in less traditional tacos. Mexican salsas are generally much thicker & smoother. Don’t be fooled by Tobasco sauce either – despite Tobasco being a state of Mexico, Tobasco sauce is definitely not authentic Mexican.
Now that you have these vital taco tips, have a look through our recipes section for your next taco night.