I’ll say it now. I’m not a big fan of tacos. My husband loves them. So does my mother. My son will probably love them when he’s big enough. They are good, but they don’t blow me over. I prefer to eat them with a fork off my plate after they have fallen apart, because they usually do.
Maybe I’m just not doing it right.
My experience with tacos so far has been a few authentic taco joints, dry supermarket tortillas and taco bell. I lived in California for 5 years and had some pretty delicious Mexican food, but the emphasis was always on huge portions. I used to call my usual burrito, “baby burrito”, because once wrapped in aluminum foil; it felt like I was carrying a very warm, infant-sized package for my lunch. I’m sure if I had handmade tortillas easily available filled with handmade (with care) anything, my perception would change.
My perceptions changed slightly with this recipe for smoked salt Padron pepper and goat cheese tacos from the Bojon Gourmet. This is a sophisticated, delicate taco. My mother brought the recipe over, along with all the ingredients except the smoked salt, which I have. She had received a carton of Padron peppers in her weekly organic produce delivery.
With a little research, I found out that Padron peppers aren’t Mexican at all. They come from Spain. They are mild and sweet (with the occasional rebel), despite their appearance. These little peppers have a unique flavor and are usually served lightly charred and drizzled with olive oil as tapas. We ate a bunch of them on their own and they were delicious. You eat them whole, stem end and all. Charred in a skillet, and sprinkled with smoked salt, they are a delicious treat.
- 1 medium ripe tomato, chopped
- salt, as needed
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, plus garnsh
- juice of half a lime
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pint basket Padron peppers
- a few pinches of smoked sea salt
- 4 (6-inch) corn tortillas (the best ones you can find)
- 2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 medium-sized ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced
- several paper-thin slivers from a red onion
- lime wedges
Sprinkle the chopped tomatoes with salt and place in a strainer to let them release their juices.
Mix together the sour cream, cilantro, lime juice and some salt in a small bowl. Taste and season some more if you prefer. Set aside.
Cut the stems off the peppers, leaving the crown end intact (this is edible). Rinse the peppers and pat dry with a towel. Using a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering hot. Add the peppers to the pan and cook them, tossing every few minutes, until they are blistered, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with smoked salt.
Using your oven or another skillet, warm the tortillas on both sides until soft. Place the tortillas on plates and build the tacos, using the ingredients in the following order:
cilantro lime crema
Top with a sprinkle of smoked salt and cilantro. Serve while the peppers are still warm, with lime wedges for squeezing.