The humble taco may well be Mexico’s greatest export to the world at least in culinary terms. Whether you like them with a hard or soft casing tacos provide a flavour party in the mouth that few foods in the world, not just in Mexican cuisine can rival. To the uninitiated knowing what to put on or in your taco can be a daunting exercise that is amplified if you’re trying to make tacos at home. We’ve put together a list of things that go great with tacos for your consideration. Before we plough into our list of taco superstars let’s understand tacos better.
What are Tacos?
The taco is a dish that comes from traditional Mexican cuisine and is best described as a wrapped sandwich. Tacos consist of an outer wrapping of a corn tortilla that is made from hominy, a specially treated maize paste. The sandwich can contain a wide variety of meat fillings including beef, pork, chicken and seafood. In addition to the meat filling tacos also feature vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, onions and chillies while topped with condiments such as salsa, guacamole and sour cream. With such a wide array of ingredients available to go into your tacos, it’s not an overstatement to say they’re likely thousands of combinations available to taco lovers. We will go as far as telling you what is good with tacos and why. The combinations thereafter are up to you.
Pico de Gallo
You’d be forgiven for thinking of pico de gallo as just salsa but there are many types of salsa out there. Pico de gallo features tomato, red onion and chilli and is best served fresh. These flavours bring out the best in your tacos. The additional tangy bitterness of lime or lemon juice makes it a great contrast to cheese and sour cream which are also popular in tacos.
If you’ve ever come across green salsa it may not be made from what you think. Tomatillo salsa is made from tomatillos, cousins of the tomato fruit we know. They also go by the name husk tomatoes. Tomatillos are cooked when put in salsa verde so you will have a different flavour to pico de gallo.
Mango salsa brings something different to your tacos compared to the aforementioned salsas. It is made with mangoes, red onion, bell peppers, jalapeno, cilantro and lemon or lime juice. The combination of sweet and spicy brings an additional layer of flavour to an already interesting dish. Mango salsa pairs very well with pork and chicken-based tacos.
Pineapple uses the same ingredients as mango salsa except you swap the mangoes for pineapples. Pineapples are just as sweet as mangoes but are much more acidic. Acetic acid is sharp and brings bite where mangoes have a smooth sweetness. Pineapple pairs very well with chicken, pork and beef-based tacos.
Kiwi Avocado Salsa Verde
Kiwi-avocado salsa verde is a salsa that uses avocados and kiwi fruit as the main ingredients. The salsa also includes cilantro, scallions, garlic, red onion and jalapeno. Kiwi brings sweetness to the salsa while avocado provides a fatty base for the flavour. This salsa is great for those who want their tacos to be more filling and healthy in terms of calories.
Guacamole is an avocado-based dip or salad that is a very popular condiment. Originally developed in Mexican cuisine it is somewhat of an international food hero with many variations all over the world. Common guacamole ingredients include lime, tomato, onion, garlic, cilantro and cayenne pepper. Guacamole is a truly versatile condiment and goes well with just about everything you can imagine putting in a taco.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a Mexican fast-food recipe that doesn’t go well with cheese. No surprises then tacos go well with cheese. You have several kinds of cheese to choose from. Some of the best cheeses for tacos are cheddar, Monterrey jack, queso Blanco and crumbled cotija. Cheddar and Monterrey jack melt well and have a strong flavour. Queso Blanco and cotija are fresh cheeses with a creamy smooth flavour which blends well with meat.
Seven-layer dip as the name suggests is a dip with 7 elements in the dip; refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheddar cheese, Monterrey jack cheese, lettuce and black olives. It combines some of the favourite vegetables and condiments that work with tacos so it makes a grand accompaniment for tacos.
Taco salad combines many elements including roasted salsa, ground beef, chilli powder, cumin, cilantro, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, avocado and sour cream. This can go straight into your tortillas as a complete taco filling with a great balance of meat, vegetables and condiments.
We’ve already established through guacamole that avocados go very well with tacos but that’s not the only way to include avocados in tacos. Grilled avocados work very well as a taco filling. The avocados are grilled with olive oil, chipotle peppers and chilli powders. They bring the oily flavour of avocados together with hints of powerful spices. For the vegetarians, this makes a good taco filling.
Gazpacho is a cold vegetable soup that originates from the Andalusia region of Spain. Traditional gazpacho recipes include stale bread, tomato, cucumbers, onion, capsicum, garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, water, and salt. The soup is not cooked but instead, ground using a mortar and pestle to mix the elements. The savoury flavoured soup combines well with tortillas as well as the various filling options available.
Sour cream is made by fermenting cream from cow’s milk with a bacterial agent that produces a thickened, creamy and tart condiment. Sour cream surprisingly blends well with spicy and savoury flavours which are present in most of the fillings used in tacos.
You are not short on options that go well with tacos. You have a wide variety of choices from soups, salsas, cheese, vegetables, condiments and other combinations.