Cooking Like A Mexican

Tacos Gobernador
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

There are a chingo of different tacos, they are not as simple as they seem.

Have you ever wondered when, where and how the idea of  creating the delicious taco came from? Actually, there is no exact date, but it is believed that the dish originated in pre-Hispanic Mexico. It’s thought that because the men worked all day in the fields, women came up with a food system for easy transportation and consumption.

In the more traditional parts of Mexico you see these bicycle taco vendors more frequently. There are a few here, but they mainly stay in the barrios, and don’t usually come down to the Gringo part of town.The first “taquiza” was documented by Bernal Diaz del Castillo and was arranged by Hernán Cortés in Coyoacán (Mexico City) for his captains. The word taco may have come from the words quauhtaqualli and tlaxcalli. But because the Spanish could not pronounce the quauhtaqualli word the Indians used to name this dish, they just said taqualli, and eventually it adopted the name of taco.

Since ancient times it was common to eat tacos on the street, and it is still the traditional dish sold in stalls on the main avenues of any city. For Mexicans, the taco is an essential part of our diet. It has countless ways of preparation, captivating almost every taste.

Local customs, geographic area, and time have influenced the different tacos, but basically a taco is composed of two main parts, the basic stew or ingredient, and a tortilla to wrap with. By the way, I don’t care what my boss says, Taco Bell is not and never will be an authentic Mexican taco. Tacos are meant to be rolled, not folded, and that’s just for starters. Nothing about Taco Bell is real. Nothing! And it pains me to hear how much the Gringa likes Taco Bell.

Tacos al Pastor is one of the most traditional tacos in Mexico. These actually were originated in the city of Puebla and are made with pork steaks that are strung on a vertical spit that rotates, roasting meat over direct heat, usually with gas burners. You see them at taco joints all the time. At serving time onion and chopped cilantro is added, and perhaps a slice of grilled pineapple on the same apparatus, and salsa.

Fish tacos originated in Baja California. For more than 50 years Ensenada locals have prepared this dish, which is made with corn tortillas, salsa, and of course grilled or fried fish. Usually, lettuce or cabbage and pico de gallo is added.

Shrimp tacos also originated in Baja, using grilled or fried shrimp.

Carnitas tacos are cooked in large copper pots where the meat is fried in the same pig lard and it has to be covered completely by it, leaving a golden color on the outside and juicy inside. During cooking orange peel, water, and sugar is added. These are served in corn tortilla with cilantro, chopped onion, green or red sauce, and a squeeze of lime on top.

Tacos gobernador (governor) are originally from Mazatlan, Sinaloa. They were created in a restaurant called Los Arcos, at the request of the wife of the state governor, Francisco Labastida. The tortillas are handmade, then shrimp and crushed cheese are added, and put on a griddle until the cheese is melted ... a delight!

Tacos de canasta are characteristic of Mexico City. They are sold by bicycle vendors, and made of small corn tortillas, filled, folded and piled inside the bike’s basket that is also covered with a piece of fabric. This way, they remain warm. The most popular basket, (canasta)  tacos are made with either shredded beef, stewed beef, potatoes with chorizo, chicken with mole, pork in red sauce or refried beans.

Flautas, also called tacos dorados, is deep fried until fully browned. The flutes are made with a large tortilla rolled in the shape of that musical instrument, and can be filled with pre-cooked shredded beef or chicken. Serve with chopped onion, avocado and tomato, shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa and grated cheese.

Burritos are also from the family of the tacos and are traditional in the north. They are made with flour tortillas stuffed with machaca, which is shredded beef scrambled with egg; but they can also be filled with other dishes.

Whatever your preference is, you can never go wrong with tacos. All kinds are so delicious and almost a complete meal. The recipe for today is tacos gobernador because they are not commonly found in taco stands, and I am sure you will love them.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 small chives, minced 2 tomatoes, seeded, chopped

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, chopped

1 cup canned tomato puree

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 corn tortillas

1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese

Lime wedges and hot sauce for serving

Procedure:

In a large thick saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the minced chives and cook until translucent, about three minutes. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook for three minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, bay leaf, and smoked paprika. Cook for another couple of minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and reserve. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaf.

 

On a really hot pan, the thicker the better, lay two tortillas, flat on the bottom of the pan. Put a small mound of cheese on one side of each tortilla. Wait until the cheese melts slightly then add about two tablespoons of the shrimp mixture to each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over into half-moon shapes and cook to melt the cheese completely, another one to two minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and shrimp mixture. Arrange the tacos on a serving platter and serve with lime wedges and hot sauce on the side.