Saturday, April 18, 2015

Taco Fixation

For the past year or so, I've been enjoying a total panini lifestyle (e.g. this), but I've recently switched over to tacos and haven't looked back.

Tacos are more versatile, easier to assemble, and a great way to make a relatively few calories really satisfy. Here are two recent concoctions, each kooky in its own way. First, crunchy salmon tacos (shot both nude and condimented):

Crunchy Salmon Tacos

Broil a slab of Alaskan salmon, starting with skin side down. Flip when surface has darkened, and broil very carefully to char the skin without burning it. Add scallions to side of pan during final few minutes.

Roughly chop the salmon, and break off chunks of crunchy skin.

Chop the scallions to 1-inch lengths.

Assemble and top with salsa verde (see recipe, below)

You can see it a little better if you click to expand the photo

Carnitas/Potato/Pear Tacos With Double Garlic Salsa Verde

Bake some Trader Joe's Potato Tots 20 minutes, then roughly quarter them with a chef's knife

Slice Trader Joe's pre-cooked carnitas and griddle (I use one of these)

Griddle scallions alongside the carnitas

Cube half an over-ripe pear

Assemble and top with salsa verde made with double garlic (see recipe, below)

Note: I griddled the meat and scallions without fat. Results were just slightly dry. Either griddle the scallions (or scallions and carnitas both) in plenty of fat, or else (more healthily) drizzle extra virgin olive oil over taco fillings just before eating.

Salsa Verde (courtesy of Paul Trapani)

6 smallish yellow tomatoes (I use Trader Joe's Yellow Tomatoes On The Vine)
1 jalapeƱo pepper with some pith and all seeds removed (be conservative and adjust heat later via Tabasco)
1/2 clove of garlic
1/2 onion
A handful of cilantro (most stems removed)
Juice of 1 lime

Add to food processor (I use this tiny, cheap, easily-cleaned one that works great for this purpose) and pulse until no large chunks remain. Stir in salt (for extra control) manually.

The tortillas I use are the best. They're from Tortilleria Nixtamal, in Queens. Wherever I find myself (often 45 minutes or more from Nixtamel), I dutifully trek there each week for tortillas. Because while it's possible to simplify and streamline recipes, you can never eliminate the requirement of a level of commitment that's a few degrees north of what most people deem sane. Not if you want deliciousness, anyway.

I'm also really really careful in how I griddle the tortillas. I move them around with my fingers, I pet them, I agonize over them. Again, too much. But the results rule....

No matter how hard I try not to prepare too much filling (because tacos use less than you'd expect), I always make way too much (because tacos use way less than you'd expect). The solution is this:

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