I have an episode of Bizarre Foods playing, where Andrew Zimmern is in New Mexico. He just said something odd [paraphrase]: ‘Hardly anybody in the U.S. makes tacos this way. The tortillas are stuffed with meat, then fried in hot oil, heating the meat inside and crisping the outside.’
This is how I fry my tacos. Doesn’t everyone make them that way? (Note I’m talking about fried tacos. Not the regular kind where you use soft corn tortillas.)
It’s one of my favorite foods in the world, but I don’t make them often and I don’t put the meat in first. I take a fresh corn tortilla (not one of the crisp things that come in a box) and dip it in about an inch of hot oil or fat. You have to have something that gives you two things to grab it with… tongs, a couple of wooden spoons, whatever. Drop it in and grab half and fold it over (but not completely… you have to hold half up). Once one half crisps up just a bit flip it over so the other half is in the oil.
It takes some time but the taste and texture can’t be beat.
Every Mexican place I’ve been to that has tacos dorados (fried tacos) makes them exactly that way. My favorite are potato tacos that are stuffed with mashed potatoes and make for a great crispy-mushy textural contrast. Heck, even The Pioneer Woman makes them that way.
Let’s be clear here, because your post is more than a little confusing.
Are you saying you fry your taco shells first, then stuff them with whatever ingredients you are using? Or, are you saying you prepare them the way the host mentions on the show, where the fully prepared taco is fried all at once?
I’m certain Johnny means the latter. That’s what makes it unusual to most Merkins. We’re the ones who buy pre-formed and fried taco shells, after all. The Mexicans certainly don’t use them. They will lightly fry a corn tortilla, add filling, fold and finish frying that sucker. Because they don’t fry them extra crispy, you can still open them up a bit to add cheese, lettuce, salsa or whathave you. They are bumpy and gnarly and utterly delicious.
And that’s how Jack in the Box does it? Because I thought they just did filling inside of pre-made taco shells, based on the marketing photos I’ve seen.
And most Mexicans won’t really fry their corn tortillas anyway. They throw them on a hot griddle, take it off, then add filling. Really, there’s a bunch of different ways to prepare them, though you’re right that you’d really never see a shell fried ahead of time.
For “street tacos” they don’t bother frying them, of course. Those are the best. But Mexican restaurants cater to folks who expect fried tortilla shells, so they adapt. I’m pretty sure Glen Bell had a lot to do with the popularity of pre-formed taco shells.
If you look closely at a JitB taco (not something I recommend!) you can see that the shell isn’t uniform. They fill the tortilla with a mystery paste of meat and beans, then fold it over and fry it. Greasy, disgusting and irresistible at 2am.
I was married to an El Paso gal who learned to cook from Mexican neighbors and housekeepers, who was horrified at the idea of shelf taco shells. She always fried her own shells, and it was always a huge mess to clean up for such a simple thing.
I just hate the smell and mess of frying things, so I’ve learned which brands are acceptable and which ones are tasteless cardboard. I can always get “real” tacos at restaurants and takeaway places.
Putting the meat and stuff in a corn tortilla and then frying the whole thing has been came before pre fried taco shells. It is the way you generally see tacos done in small local restaurants in New Mexico. Also most of the various non taco bell taco shops in San Diego fry the tortillas with the filling inside them.
Corn tortillas in my experience might be grilled, and doubled up for strength, but not fried. The deep fried tacos always have flour tortillas in my experience. But yeah, they’re great. Only a few places here in the Midwest seem to make them that way.
Yes. I put the meat in first, and then fry them in oil. Zimmern seemed to think this preparation was unusual.
Those are what I call ‘normal’ tacos; though at home I heat them in the microwave oven to make them soft instead of putting them in a pan. What I’m talking about are the tacos dorados, which have the crispy shell. FWIW, I prefer the former; but the SO likes the fried ones with ground or shredded beef inside.