…is a cause for concern. Clothes are fitting me a bit too snugly and I find myself playing with my fat rolls around my hips when my mind wanders. Although it has proven to be a pretty soothing past time, the thought arises: I have rolls of fat that I can fondle. Wow.
I blame it on this goddamn city. So many wonderful eating options, restaurants popping up like acne on a pimply kid’s face and no dearth of willing hands serving you sloppy, cheesy gorgeous tacos, amazing stir-fried goodies, or late-night fried meat buns. Taipei has rightly won CNN’s Asia’s most sinful cities award for gluttony. All tongue in cheek, yeah…don’t want anybody getting their knickers in a knot, but it’s TRUE! Especially, if you live in the city. We get fat.
Now back to those tacos…it’s right up there with pasta, pizza, burgers, soda – all the junk I really don’t like anyway. You know? The kind of food that inspires you to think of your stomach as a separate character from you? “My stomach, my boyfriend and I are going out for dinner tonight so we can’t join you for that peaceful protest. Good luck with…nomnomnom…”.
It all started and ended with the tacos. On my first trip to the States two years ago, my boyfriend and his family were practically salivating when describing the food trucks in Austin, Texas that sold really incredible tacos. I was all meh, show me the raw food cafes and vegan options.
But then, I tasted my first soft fish taco and died. There were no adjectives, no exclamations, no dramatic finales, I tasted it and simply died. I tried an ahi tuna (seared to perfection and like a slab of it, not the piddly tendrils you get in Taipei) with a sour cream so thick you could paddle around in, the freshest cilantro and a gorgeous zesty salsa. The flavour balance was incredible, the textures, the colours and the simplicity of it all blew me away. Clearly, we are doing something wrong in South Africa not to have had this experience. For the rest of that trip, we turned into tacos whores, gobbling them down as often as we could. We were all still thin at that stage.
Fast forward to Taipei where upon our return, I walked around the city, mumbling, “taco…taco….taco” without finding any. Finally, we heard about a place called Macho Tacos. We were utterly excited to have some a taco joint but then we suffered the misfortune of actually eating one of their tacos. I will not waste any more space on Macho Tacos. Consider yourselves warned.
We slowly recovered from our cravings as many more delightful culinary adventures beckoned. But then we heard about Juanita’s. A good indication of the Western standard of a restaurant is when all the expats share information about it, post food pics and post links to the restaurant. Juanita’s was scoring top grades for good quality guacamole, thick sour cream and delicious fillings. But by now my taco obsession had reduced into a passing interest. I went to check out Juanita’s anyway and wasn’t that impressed with it. It was leaps and bounds better than Macho Tacos but then so would be, damp stale bread.
Juanita’s has a great menu but a sloppy serving line where the fillings reach your taco like random insects that splat violently to death against your window screen while driving down an endless highway at a high speed. They were stingy on the sour cream and also thinned it out, double disappointment but… the tacos were tasty.
The Mexican joint that finally turned me on in a way fast/junk food hadn’t turned me on in Taipei before was, Dos Chinos. Situated near the bustling mess of Tonghua Street, Dos Chino is easy to miss. I think the only reason we went in there is because we couldn’t get to our first choice restaurant since we were stuck in peak-hour traffic! We sat inside the restaurant which shouldn’t really be called a restaurant, more like a stand with doors, chairs and tables or a shack that’s been cleaned up, I don’t know…it is tiny. We got there ordered pulled pork and a spicy beef and were completely impressed with how delicious their tacos were. The two guys working behind the counter look exhausted and that’s because they are turning out a large amount of really excellent tacos to a growing number of adoring fans. Generous servings of guac, luscious lashings of sour cream and we were hoovering them down.
So, this brings me to the point of this post: my derriere. I can’t go on eating these tacos or soon my stomach, my derriere and I will be writing stage plays for three. Dos Chinos has set the bar high but ultimately, health should come first.
I figured I would give raw tacos a bash and satiate myself thus.
Ani Phyo’s Heuvo-less Rancheros with Red Enchilada sauce and Pico De Gallo
Amen. This taco has allowed the three of us (my derriere, stomach and I) to reach ceasefire: Raw corn tortilla with heuvo-less rancheros with red enchilada sauce.
Here’s the recipe:
To make the raw corn tortilla, blend 1.5 cups of corn kernels with 1/2 cup of flax meal, 3 tbls olive oil and about 3/4 cups of filtered water. I would add salt as the tortilla I made, turned out a bit sweet because the corn was sweet.
Once blended, place 1/4 cup rounds on your teflex sheets and dehydrate for 5 – 6 hours at 104 degrees farenheit. Please follow this guide. No short cuts. I took a shortcut and raised the temp so my tortilla came out too dry at the edges. Flip it over after 5 hours then dry th other side for another 5 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, just take your lazy ass to a bakery and buy some already-cooked tortilla:-)
Next we work on the filling.
Finely chop 1/2 a white onion and marinate it in 1 tbls of olive oil and 1 tbls of liquid amino. let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Pumpkin seeds, tumeric and paprika
The filling is a combination of a pâté called Love-The-Chicks Pâté and tomatoes, onion and bell pepper. The original recipe asked for:
2 cups almonds (I used pumpkin seeds – much cheaper)
1 cup sunflower seeds (I Ieft this out)
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons tumeric powder ( for colour)
1 cup of water (I used 1/2)
Blend everything together and you should get this:
Next, drain the marinade from the onions, add them; some finely-chopped yellow bell pepper (1/2 cup) and tomato (1 de-seeded).
On to the red enchilada sauce:
2 cups seeded roma tomatoes
2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 to 1/2 serrano chili or jalapeno, seeded, diced
1 tbls fresh, chopped cilantro
2 tbls chopped onion
a few drops of liquid smoke if you have this (I don’t)
Blend. Taste. Die.
The last step is making the pico de gallo. I must admit, that b this point I was tired and wanted out of the kitchen so I chopped tomatoes, cilantro, added salt and called it quits. But here’s the recipe anyway:
2 cups diced roma tomato
1/4 finely chopped white onion
jalapeno to taste
1 tbls fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/ tsp salt
mix everything together.
layer your taco with the pate, then enchilada sauce and finally the pico de gallo.
For an exciting additional filling, grill some tofu in lime and cilantro.
Layer the taco with tofu, enchilada sauce and pico de gallo.