I’m not sure when I first discovered Mexican food. Most likely during university in Auckland, where the only place to get it was The Mexican Cafe. Burritos, questadillas, enchiladas – they did most of the “fast” Tex-Mex staples, and had an excellent Tequila selection.
However, until recently, tacos where never really my thing. The only ones I knew of were the hard-shelled ones, which were messy and usually quite boring. They always looked too small – good for a starter, but not for a main. After spending more time in the US – California, really, but also Austin, TX – I learned to think of them as more than a snack. The Taco is the perfect flavour delivery vehicle.
A Taco is a very simple, but flexible, thing. Take a small corn tortilla, grill or steam it a little to make it more flexible and warm, add some topping, and eat. It can be anything from a bite size to a meal, and can contain anything which isn’t too liquid. Supreme flexibility.
So, after getting a tortilla press for my birthday, we started experimenting with various flavours and combinations. I usually start with the meat: prawn, fish, chicken, and sometimes steak or slow cooked brisket. Add in a sauce or something else gooey: flavoured mayonnaise, mashed avocado and top it off with some slaw, cabbage or other greens. La Boca Loca in Wellington have some of the best tacos I’ve tasted, and The Lucky Taco in Auckland regularly goes crazy with things like Ox tongue, tripe and even brains.
Yup. Zombie Tacos.
For us, tacos are usually an end of week thing – a Friday treat after a week at work, and the last Friday we spent at home was no exception. I think it came out as one of our best.
Japanese-inspired Tuna tacos
- 6 small to medium sized tortilla
- 200g tuna loin, around 1-2cm thick
- Shot of tequila (shochu or sake could also work)
- A not very hot (but flavourful) chilli
- Japanese mayonnaise
- 3 limes (2 for just the juice)
- 100g Wakame seaweed salad
This made 6 tacos, which is enough for 2-3 people. This filling could easily be stretched to 8 tacos.
Slice the tuna loin into strips about 1cm thick. Put in a bowl with the tequila, some chilli and the juice of 2 limes. Leave to soak for 15 mins or so while you do the other things.
Mix a decent amount of Japanese mayonnaise with the zest of one lime, and the juice of half of the lime. Mix and leave to marinate.
Heat the corn tortilla in a dry frypan or grill plate. You want to make them warm, a bit floppy, and possibly (depending on taste) a little crispy. I usually do them one at a time, and put them in a tea towel to keep them warm and steam them a little. I prefer corn over wheat, too, but that’s just a personal taste.
Once they are cooked, cook the fish to taste – a little crispy on the outside, still rare on the inside. Distribute onto the tortilla, add the lime mayo on top, and finish with wakame. Eat right away.
Nic Wise lives with his wife, one cat and a garden full of birds on a small island just off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand. He can usually be found writing apps for his iPhone, or taking photos on Instagram.