Ask Cap’n Greg

Mar 7, 2014 by Ask Cap'n Greg

Let’s talk tacos. You know those soggy cylinders you get at the fast food restaurant drive-up? Those are not tacos. You want the real deal? Rocky Point has ’em.

I met Maxine Ambergast of Flagstaff at JJ’s Cantina in Cholla Bay, and she asked me to explain the taco situation in Rocky Point, so here goes…

First, the tortilla. Corn (maîz) holds up better to wet ingredients, and typically tastes better, but many gringos choose the flour (harina) option. Whatever works. Second, depending on the main taco ingredient, garnishes can include shredded cabbage, lime-marinated red onions, raw onions, grilled green onions, sliced avocado or guacamole, sliced radishes, pico de gallo (Spanish for “rooster’s beak” because of the chunks of chopped red tomato in it), fresh or bottled salsas, a variety of grated or crumbled cheeses and plenty of fresh lime wedges.

Tacos de carne asada

This is the closest you’ll get to mass produced, hamburger-based tacos. Thin pieces of flank steak are marinated, then slapped on a hot grill (or gas-fired griddle) until cooked through. Then the meat is chopped into fine pieces on a wooden cutting surface that often looks like part of an old tree stump.

Tacos de birria

Beef or goat meat is slow cooked in a stew of vegetables and spices until it melts in your mouth. (It looks like pulled pork.)

Tacos de pescado

Fish filets are cut in strips, lightly breaded and fried in oil.

Tacos al pastor

Al pastor means shepherd style. A marinated pork roast is cooked on a spit (vertical rotisserie) over an open flame. On the spit above the meat is typically a pineapple and sometimes an onion. The pork is carved onto a tortilla, a slice or two of piña is added, and you can load it up with other stuff.

Tacos de cabeza

Cabeza is head. As in the head of a cow. Most often it’s the tongue that’s the main meat, but the brain, eyes and other head flesh, as well as other cuts of beef, can be part of the taco filling that are simmered in a spicy broth.

I suggest you sample them all. However, even though tacos de cabeza are quite popular, and Cap’n Greg swears he tried them once, he will be across the street enjoying his tacos al pastor instead. Stay hungry, my friends. And buen apetit.

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