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Taco time!

So something else that happened while I was recently couchbound was that M splashed out on some masa harina. We’re total pros at wheat tortillas (and their many derivatives, including tortilla chips), but the corn tortilla has always eluded us. Masa harina, it seems, is the key ingredient, so for years we’ve been trying to approximate it with corn meal, ground corn, maize flour, and various other LIES. Eventually, M decided enough was enough and ordered some masa harina to experiment with.

It’s *amazing*. After uncountable corn tortilla experiments (and a noteworthy tamale attempt) that led to crumbling, breakage, tears and general ill-humour, masa harina is reliable and supportive and tender. M had successful tortillas with the very first batch, and doggone it, they are DELICIOUS. He took a couple of batches to refine the recipe (uber-high hydration FTW: about 130%!), and then it was time for taco night.

Corn tortillas, resting

Fresh corn tortillas holy wow!

Start with fresh corn tortillas, if that’s your game. These were soft and delicious already, but we were ready to knock it up a notch.

The corn tortillas are soft enough to bend without cracking

See how bend!

Observe how soft they are! They fold without shattering! Amazeballs!

Corn tortillas draped over oven rack for baking

Racked up

To turn your tortillas into taco shells, brush them with vegetable oil and drape them over a rack to bake. At 200°C, they took around fifteen minutes, but watch them carefully.

The taco shells are baked until curved

Crispy!

Once the taco shells have taken shape, you can toast them further; we had one almost flatten out when we did so, so we probably wouldn’t do it again.

And then, well, you know what to do with a taco, right?

A close up of a filled taco

Finished taco!

Another exciting experiment for the evening was the no-meat, no-tomato filling. Alert readers will recall that Chez Spoonfully is not only a meat-free household, but is also a tomato-free household, due to certain blog writers having an allergy to the nightshade family (tomatoes, chillies, eggplants, potatoes, capsiscums, tomatillos, goji berries, etc. etc.). Yet I was determined to have some hearty and delicious filling for these glorious tacos!

M’s dad recently cooked up a huge batch of this no-tomato sauce, and so impressed was I that I hurried home and made my own freezer-filling batch, and I’ve been using it in a lot of things—as a pasta sauce, as a bbq sauce base, etc. So to make a glorious taco filling, I defrosted some of the above sauce, and mixed it with some fried onions, cooked red lentils, and spices (from memory: coriander, cumin, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, red pepper, black pepper and salt). As it simmered, I added some soy sauce, some red wine vinegar, and some brown sugar, just to fine-tune the flavour and get it as close to tomato-land as possible. (As far as I remember tomato-land. It’s been a while.)

And dudes, it was amazing. Which is great, because M’s taco shells were brilliant and deserved nothing less than an amazing filling. Between the hot lentil mix, the melty cheddar and the light, fresh salad, these tacos were a massive win.

The final taco

A glorious moment

A meal wherein we both overcame a long-standing impediment to gastronomic happiness. Everybody kicked a goal!

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