Here in my house, I take any little reason to cook international cuisine and really make a spectacle of it. Of course, here in America at least, Cinco de Mayo isn’t any little reason, it’s practically become a national holiday. For those of you not from norteamericano, Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) is an important day in Mexican history. I’d always thought it was the Mexican indpendence day, but according to Wiki, that’s not quite the case. No mind, here in America, it’s become an excuse to party and drink and is nationally known because 1. We have a large Mexican population 2. Gringos really like Mexican food and especially margaritas, and 3. It’s just plain fun.
In my own city, there are celebrations held at various venues, which invariably involve people drinking too much tequila and making subsequent inquestionably bad choices, but I prefer to just have a little delicious celebration of my own.
Since I’m working tonight, I decided to cook up las comidas last night.
I do my carne asada taco truck style. You can also do this with chicken but then, of course, it will be called pollo asada. I don’t really have an official recipe. There are a ton out there if you are a “recipe” person, or if you’ve never made them before. I basically do this:
Get some decent quality meat, chuck or round and cut it up into really small pieces. You could get really fancy and use flank or skirt steak, but like I said, I like to do mine up taco truck style, which ain’t fancy–just delicious. Sometimes you can find the meat already cut, especially for carne asada, especially if you live in a place with a large Mexican population.
Marinate the meat in some spices. I use garlic, onion, cumin, chile powder, salt and peper. Add a little lime juice and maybe some olive oil. You can marinate as long as you want, but since I’m usually not very organized, I just usually let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Saute it all over medium high heat until cooked through. I break out my cast iron for this one, because it browns the meat and gives it a nice grilled flavor. Towards the end, add in a juice of a lime. Adjust your seasonings to taste.
Assemble the tacos. I use corn tortillas, and I like to double them up, which is how I’ve seen it done in the authentic places. Make sure to steam your tortillas first, in the microwave with a wet paper towel. This is the best way I’ve found to warm them. Supposedly, if you have really fresh tortillas, you can get away with just warming them, but mine have always turned out to be a dry mess unless I steam them.
Add your meat and toppings. For the toppings, I prefer chopped cabbage over lettuce, which is the more authentic way of serving. Also, I must have some fresh avacodo and cilantro. Maybe add some onion. It’s up to you. Top the whole thing with a salsa of your choice. I usually like to use homeade pico de gallo, but I was feeling lazy, so I used a jarred brand. I like Herdez, it just tastes fresher than the other brands that I’ve tried, but use what you like. Oh yeah, at the end, feel free to squeeze a bit of lime over the final product.
For my cocktail, I made mojitos! Ok, so mojitos are technically Cuban and I suppose the true cinco de mayo tradition would call for margaritas. But I’ve been dying to try the Mojitos and hey, I’m American, so it’s okay to totally mix up two totally different and independent Latino cultures, right?
I used this recipe, from Rufus‘ site, which I really enjoy btw. I muddled and added club soda. I also made one of mine sugar free using a mix of splenda and liquid Sweet n low. Really, the sugar free was almost just as good, if you’re watching your calories. I also made the kids a virgin version (say that ten times over) and they loved it.s, so you could do that if you don’t drink alcohol. Either way, the mojito was just as promised: cool and refreshing.
So there you have it. Eat, drink, and be merry…ole, ole, ole (I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s Spanish).