Thinking Outside The Taco

I love Tex-Mex food, with burritos and tacos being my favorite stand by. And re-fried beans. And rice (so hard to find good rice). And the sauces. And the different fillings. If there was one type of food I could eat forever it’s “Mexican” — probably followed by “Chinese”. Two huge cultures with a huge variety of foods. But let’s focus on the plain-old taco.

I have quick chicken, good ground beef, skirt steak fajitas, and flat iron super-beef flavor. One of my comfort fillings is ground beef with pintos mashed in. I am getting myself very hungry. But sometimes I want something different. The Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Cuisine at Home has two good ones.

The first, which is excellent, is Mu Shu Tofu. A hoisin based sauce, with stir fried eggs, tofu, scallions, carrots, bell pepper, and napa cabbage. Now, you are supposed to serve it in mandarin pancakes, which I’ll try sometime, but I found a quicker solution: The Guerrero Fresqui-Ricas uncooked flour tortillas. They are a good thickness and save a LOT of prep time.  These Chinese Tofu Tacos are fantastic. SO flavorful — and the pressed and stir fried tofu has excellent texture.

How to get your tofu to not suck in a stir fry: First, you need the right texture. Get Extra Firm. Second, you need to press it. All this means is wrapping the tofu in paper towels and put a cutting board/plate over the tofu and let sit. Replace the paper towels 2-3 times, giving a total “press” time of at least 1/2 hour. This gets all the excess water out of the tofu. The paper towels should be wet after pressing — but don’t toss them, just let them dry and re-use to clean up your counters. You’re trying to get that water out of the tofu without crushing it. Once pressed, cut into 1/2″ chunks. Stir fry, on their own, in batches with 1 t of oil. Don’t push them around much — let the sides get well browned and crispy. Then add them toward the end of the recipe — like when you add the sauce at the end of a stir fry. You will never know that you are eating tofu.

The second is the BLT+Chicken Burritos. Fry up some bacon, saute some chicken breasts cut into strips. Then, combine romaine, tomato (sun dried work GREAT), cucumber, ranch dressing + chipotle mix, and reserved bacon bits and toss. Make a burrito with the lettuce mixture, put in some chicken, and roll up. This all takes no more than a half hour, so is great for the week nights. I guess you could call this a “wrap” — but it uses a tortilla, damnit, so I’m going to call it a Burrito.

Mu Shu Tofu: MuShuTofu

BLT Burrito with Chicken: BLTBurritos