Taco Cleanse enthusiast Abbey Bean asked an important question on a previous post and I would like to address it here because this is a crucial topic that I feel remiss for not addressing as of yet. She said “do you prefer flour or corn tortillas?” and I will try to answer this as best I can.
If you have ever wondered “how could eat tacos all day” my guess is that you have never had a deliciously fresh perfectly made tortilla. They are the most critical element of the taco both for enfolding the delicious components within and for creating a way to bring the taco from your plate to your mouth. They are also a vital element when it comes to the taste of the taco. You hear a lot that you can tell how good a taco stand is going to be by it’s salsa and I would have to disagree. Fresh homemade tortillas are the hallmark of any great taco stand. And they aren’t even hard to make.
I choose my taco’s tortilla based on what is going to be inside. Usually it works out that if it’s going to be more of a Tex-Mex taco like fajitas or a scramble-sausage-cheese breakfast taco I will use a flour tortilla. If my taco is more Mexican inspired like Al Pastor, Carnitas, or my standard breakfast taco of refried beans, nopales, and potatoes, then I will chose a corn tortilla. This is most of the time and I do really love a good corn tortilla. A bad one can ruin a taco however. I’ve never really been a fan of whole wheat tortillas because I’ve never had one that wasn’t tough but maybe I would enjoy a really fresh one. I do like Margarita’s spelt tortillas and get them occasionally for breakfast. On the taco cleanse it can be a little harder to figure out what tortilla goes with what filling. For the Pad Thai-co I was trying to think of some rice based or mung bean based tortilla, like a Vietnamese crepe, but in the end I just used flour because flour is kind of a neutral and it worked great.
Choosing a flour vs a corn tortilla isn’t even the real issue. I used to be kind of a corn tortilla snob but I’ve gotten over it as I’ve gotten older and learned to try and embrace every kind of taco. Quality, I assure you, is what makes the real difference. I don’t think I can really explain it through pictures because you can’t always tell a good tortilla by looking at it. Just the other day, I was at the Mexican meat market looking for five inch flour tortillas and I tried the first brand I found that was vegan. I didn’t have very high hopes – I usually don’t go for flour tortillas unless they just came off the comal- but they ended up being fluffy and delicious. Generally you want to either make tortillas yourself or go somewhere where they are still warm when you purchase them. In Austin, Fiesta, HEB, Central Market, and many taquerias make their tortillas fresh all day so they are easy to find. Tortillas don’t last long, that’s why dishes like migas, chilaquiles, and nachos were invented, to use up the tortillas past their prime. If you aren’t making fresh tortillas you always want to heat them up, before you add the filling. I used to always wrap them in foil and stick them in the oven but ever since I got my tortilla warmer I have been using the microwave instead. Tortillas should always be small, six inches or less, you should be able to finish a taco in a few bites.
If there aren’t Mexican grocery stores in your neighborhood and you do decide to make tortillas yourself, I recommend getting a tortilla press to make the job super easy. They aren’t expensive and you can use them to flatten gluten cutlets too if you make your own seitan.
I would also recommend watching a video, here is one from Hilah Cooking, to get the technique right and try corn first, I find them easier than flour. They are similar to making pancakes except there is no measuring, only a couple ingredients, and they are done in about a minute. If you can’t get masa in your area, there are even recipes for how to make them yourself, here is a great video.
Now there are, of course, a range of other vehicles for holding your taco but these are always secondary to the standard fresh tortilla. Crispy tacos, puffy tacos, pancake tacos, waffle tacos, romaine leaf tacos, and even raw corn tortilla tacos all have their place on the taco cleanse but they aren’t “standard” tacos, I would call them specialty tacos. I see a lot of folks calling their tacos “soft tacos” and I think that term is an invention from Taco Bell that is rather redundant. Any taco is a soft taco unless it’s otherwise stated.
I hope that clears things up. Please let me know if you have any questions.