Back off, Taco Tuesdays – last Friday stole the taco spotlight. That’s right, National Taco Day is celebrated annually on Oct. 4, which also happens to be National Vodka Day, so might as well whip up a cocktail to chase them down.
Whether you prefer hard or soft shell, there’s no arguing that tacos, in all their handheld glory, are epically delicious on National Taco Day and, really, every day of the year. We need no reason, Tuesday or holiday, to persuade us to indulge in the indispensable culinary creation.
With endless possibilities of fillings and varieties – from ice cream and tofu to chicken curry and spaghetti – the taco is no longer only Mexican cuisine. It’s anything you want it to be.
And today we’re going Asian with caramelized sweet-and-savory beef piled on a crisp corn tortilla shell and topped with a tangy and crunchy cabbage-cilantro slaw. Yes, it’s as delicious as it sounds.
Soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, lime juice, brown sugar and seasonings combine as a marinade for thinly sliced beef. After being marinated for at least 4 hours, it’s cooked over high heat until nice and caramelized.
Paired with a slaw topping – cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro that’s tossed in a zesty mixture of rice vinegar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes – each bite offers a vibrant mouthful of flavors and textures. For added heat and brightness, I finish them off with a drizzle of Sriracha and fresh squeeze of lime.
If you don’t want to fry the corn tortillas, they can be slightly dampened with water and grilled, or warmed flour tortillas can be used. And if you’re into making beef jerky, I highly recommend using the marinade for a teriyaki jerky. The flavor is spot on.
Adapted from natashaskitchen.com.
For the meat:
1 1/4 pounds steak, such as sirloin or flank
4 tablespoons sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup hot water
For the slaw:
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 small cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
For the shells:
Oil, for frying
8 corn tortillas, 6-inch
Thinly slice the beef against the grain and place it in a medium mixing bowl.
Combine together all the marinade ingredients, stir and pour over the meat. Toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the slaw. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, red pepper flakes and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Add the cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro and toss to combine. Chill until ready to serve.
When ready to cook the meat, heat a large nonstick pan over high heat. When it’s hot, add the meat (discarding the marinade) and let it sauté without stirring for 2 minutes or until slightly browned on the bottom. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and the meat is caramelized, about 5-8 minutes.
To make the shells, heat about 1 inch of oil in a small skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Use tongs to place one tortilla at a time into the oil. It should start to sizzle right away. Cook for about 15 seconds, then flip over and fold the shell in half. Cook for about 45 seconds, then flip to the other side and cook until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with remaining shells.
To assemble tacos, place meat into fried shells and top with prepared slaw. Serve with lime wedges and Sriracha.
Audrey Alfaro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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