A Beginner’s Guide To Mexican Tacos
From the taco al pastor in the nation’s capital, to the northern coasts of Baja California, all the way down to the zesty, spicy pibil marinades in Yucatán, we’ll show you how to make your own Mexican taco experience – from tortilla to salsa – all from the comfort of your kitchen.
So, let’s taco ’bout tacos!
First, what’s a taco?
Across Mexico, tacos are found in soft warm tortillas made from either corn or wheat. They’re filled with rich marinated meat and topped with a sprinkle of zingy or spicy salsa, diced onions and fresh coriander. Tacos are finger food in Mexico, making them the ideal street meal to eat standing up – and just about anywhere.
How many kinds of tacos are there?
We found thousands of tacos from every region of Mexico. Across the country, you’ll find taco vendors outside schools, offices, construction sites and street corners tempting you with taco flavours ranging from melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork to crunchy deep-fried crickets!
The taco scene in Mexico is vast, so we’ve adapted four famous tacos from across the nation, with bold punchy flavours and exciting new textures, so you can try them yourself at home.
One of Mexico’s most famous tacos is the al pastor. First developed in the 1920s by Lebanese immigrants, this taco is a true symbol of Mexico as a cultural melting pot for cuisine. The pork is marinated then slow-roasted on a shawarma-style spit (a bit like döner kebab), before being sliced thinly and layered into a tortilla. To cut through all that rich meat, you’ll top it with flecks of spicy pineapple salsa for a sweet, tangy kick.
Check out this recipe to recreate Pork ‘Al Pastor’ Tacos with Spicy Pineapple Salsa at home (no shawarma-style spit or open flame required!).
In Yucatán in the South of Mexico, the pibil taco reigns as the region’s favourite. To build the complex, zesty flavours of pibil, you start by marinating pork in oregano and zingy citrus juices like oranges, lemons and limes. To balance out the rich marinade, top your taco with pickled vegetables, crispy onions and coriander and dive in!
We recreated all the tender, spicy-sweet flavour of a pibil taco, with none of the meat, in this vegan jackfruit version.
Did you know jackfruit is the largest fruit that grows on a tree? For more interesting facts and recipes featuring jackfruit, check out our post on this versatile fruit.
Baja California is located directly south of the US California (but not actually part of the US!), and is the birthplace of the original fish taco. One bite of tender fried fish fillet, with a fruity mango salsa and creamy chipotle crema and you’ll know exactly why these tacos have taken the street food world by storm. Try them yourself for the perfect taco to enjoy in the sunshine.
The coastal area of Baja, California, isn’t just known for fish – their spicy prawn tacos are also famed around the world. To make your own, you’ll coat jumbo prawns in coconut and panko to give it a super crisp coating. This will add a delicious crunch to your soft, warm tortillas and creamy homemade guacamole. For a kick, finish your taco with zingy pickled chilli, put away the knife and fork and dig in.
Salivating yet? Then grab your ingredients, get in the kitchen and don’t forget to tag @goustocooking on Instagram so we can see your tacos!
Which taco do you want to try first? Let us know in the comments!