Quieres unos tacos, amigo? If you do, today is the day! Even though it is not Tuesday, fret not, because TGIF! National Taco Day is celebrated annually on October 4. A staple dish among the Spanish-speaking community, tacos are loved and eaten by many around the world.
Tacos come with a variety of fillings, often wrapped in either soft or hard shells. The word taco means sandwich in English. The taco shell or tortilla is made with either corn or wheat and wrapped around a filling of garnishes like tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and proteins such as beef, chicken, pork or fish.
History of Taco
The origin of taco predates to the Spanish Conquistadors in the early 16th century. Anthropological evidence suggests that Mexican natives living in the lake region of the Valley of Mexico traditionally ate tacos with the filling of small fish. Documentation by Bernal Diaz del Castillo revealed that Hernan Cortes arranged the first taco feast for his captains in Coyoacan, Mexico. Some historians also suggest that tacos arrived in Mexico silver mines three centuries later.
The word taco is initially referred to a piece of paper used to wrap gunpowder and placed into holes carved in the rock. Surprisingly, you will notice that a chicken taquito resembles a stick of dynamite a lot. Despite the contradiction, we can all agree that today, tacos have become one of the most popular Mexican food out there.
Types of Taco
There are many variations of tacos, and if you have never indulged in tacos before, it is easy to get lost among the options. Here are some of the common fillings that you will come across in any taco eatery:
1. Taco Al Pastor
Taco Al Pastor can be loosely translated to shepherd-style pork. The pork meat is marinated with a blend of chillies and spices and sautéed or slow-cooked on trompo using an open flame. The protein is often garnished with pineapple, giving a sweet and tangy flavour to it.
2. Taco Árabes
Taco Árabes is a fusion between the Middle East and Mexico, substituting the heavily marinated lamb meat with pork. The marinated meat is wrapped inside a pita-like tortilla and supplemented with the famous chipotle salsa.
3. Taco Barbacoa
Taco Barbacoa uses shredded beef or goat as filling. In Mexico, Barbacoa refers to the method of slow-cooking over an open flame or in a hole dug into the ground until the meat is tender. In northern Mexico, beef cheeks (cachete) or goat (cabrito) is often used as fillings and served at most eateries during weekends.
4. Taco Birria
Birria is indigenous to Guadalajara, famously regarded as the country’s birria capitol. Birria is a spicy goat meat (cabrito) stew, marinated in a spicy guajillo chilli-based broth. Traditionally, birria is a special occasion dish, often served during weddings and other special functions.
5. Taco Carnitas
Carnitas means little meats, and it is made with shredded pork shoulder, either braised or simmered in its fat for several hours. The slow cooking tenderises the meat and brings out the pork flavour. The tenderised pork meat and the crispy hard shell tortilla make a perfect combination of taste and texture; one serving is hardly enough!
6. Taco Pescado
Taco Pescado or fish taco is one that uses fried or grilled fish fillet with toppings such as lettuce, cabbage, pico de gallo salsa and sour cream or citrus mayo.
7. Taco Vegetal
For you vegetarians out there, this taco is for you. Taco Vegetal often comes with a selection of sautéed greens such as red and green pepper, onion and squash or even soy-based meat-substitutes. With the right blend of spices, Taco Vegetal can turn even meat lovers into vegetarian taco converts.
How to observe National Taco Day
If you feel like cooking, today is the day that you should try making taco. There is a lot of taco recipes that you can try but if you have never made taco before, here is a recipe by Delish and it is such a simpleton as it only takes thirty minutes of your precious time.
Prep time: ca. 30 min
(For the Taco)
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ strips
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. chilli powder
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 8 corn tortillas, warmed
(For the toppings)
- Thinly sliced red onion
- Diced tomatoes
- Shredded Monterey Jack
- Diced avocados
- Fresh cilantro
- Lime wedges
This recipe is also suitable for beef and goat meat.
- Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to skillet.
- Cook around 6 minutes or until golden.
- Then, add the spices and stir until coated.
- To build the tacos, layer the chicken and your desired toppings in tortillas. Don’t forget to serve with lime wedges.
If you ever feel like eating tacos, you can always browse any tacos eatery near you on foodpanda and have them delivered straight to your home.