The trinity of the perfect taco: “Good tortilla, delicious filling and a tasty sauce”

Antonio Luna, partner and manager of the three Barcelona Taco Alto taquerias, expresses in his creations his obsession with the three basic elements for an impeccable taco: “Good tortilla, delicious filling and a tasty sauce to accompany everything”. Originally from Mexico City, Luna shares here some of his most popular recipes. “A taco should be an experience that transports you to that stall in the market or family meals where the tortilla could not be missing as a base to serve stews.” For this, it is necessary to understand the seasonality of the products and the change of their flavors according to the season. “The quality of what we cook is always essential to obtain a good result,” reflects the chef, who works exclusively with local products, freshly nixtamalized artisan corn tortillas and homemade sauces. “We seek to offer a bite that people remember.”

Nachos with guacamole.
Nachos with guacamole.Catherine Barjau

classic nachos

A perfect shareable appetizer that gets a whole lot better when you use freshly fried homemade tortilla chips: the added pico de gallo and guacamole are ubiquitous on Mexican tables and serve as a side and garnish in countless dishes.

Ingredients (for 6 people): for the guacamole: 3 avocados, ¼ onion, 1 level tablespoon of chopped coriander, 45 milliliters of lime juice, salt to taste. For the pico de gallo: 2 ripe but firm tomatoes (pear, for example), a quarter of a white onion, 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander, salt, lime juice to taste and ground black pepper (optional). In addition, 18 corn tortillas, sunflower or light olive oil.

Preparation: Peel and finely chop the guacamole onion, add the lime juice and salt and leave to stand for a few minutes to lose strength. Add the flesh of the avocados and the cilantro, crush with a fork and set aside. For the pico de gallo, remove the stem from the tomato and cut it into small cubes. Remove the skin from the onion and chop it. Mix everything with the lime juice, salt and if you want pepper, and reserve. Put the tortillas one on top of the other, cut them in half and then in six, in wedges. Fry in plenty of hot oil, put in a colander and, when they are no longer burning, serve with the pico de gallo and guacamole.

Pirate Taco.
Pirate Taco.Catherine Barjau

pirate taco

Simplicity made a taco —and one of Taco Alto’s best sellers—: juicy meat cooked quickly on the grill, melted cheese and a lightly toasted tortilla. It does not take more for this original combination to work perfectly.

Ingredients (for 16 tacos): 16 flour tortillas (wheat), 500 grams of clean veal entrails (without the membranes), 500 grams of grated tender tronchon cheese, 2 avocados, salt, pepper; garden (chopped white onion and cilantro), lime and sauces to accompany.

Preparation: remove the nerves and excess fat from the entrails, cut it into crosswise strips and season with salt and pepper. Prepare the garden by chopping white onion and cilantro. Cook a quarter of the meat on a hot griddle or skillet to taste; Meanwhile, heat four tortillas on one side. Turn the tortillas over and spread a quarter of the cheese over them, spread the meat and wait for the cheese to melt. Serve with a wedge of avocado on top and the garden, sauces and lime to top it off.

Cochinita pibil.
Cochinita pibil.Catherine Barjau

Cochinita pibil

This delicious dish is perfect when cooking for a lot of people, because all the work can be done before the guests arrive.

Ingredients (for about 8 people): for the meat: 3 kilograms of diced pork loin or shoulder, 150 grams of achiote paste, 120 milliliters (ml) of orange juice, 120 ml of lemon juice, 120 ml of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of lard, 1 tablespoon of ground black pepper, half tablespoon of cinnamon powder, half tablespoon of cumin powder, 8 peeled garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, salt to taste. For the marinated onion: 4 red onions, 150 ml of white wine vinegar, 150 ml of orange juice, salt. Also, about 32 corn tortillas, limes and chiles.

Preparation: Put the ingredients of the meat marinade in a food processor and blend until you get a light paste. Cut the meat into cubes and pour the marinade on top, stir well and leave to rest overnight in the fridge. Cut the purple onion into strips, salt and put in a jar with the orange juice and vinegar in the fridge for at least four hours. Pour the meat with the marinade into a saucepan, distribute the pork fat on top, cover and bake at 180 degrees for about three hours. Strain the juice and reduce it by half. Shred the meat. Return the reduced juice to the meat and stir so that it is evenly distributed. Serve with the tortillas heated in the pan, marinated onion, limes, chiles or sauce so that each diner complements them to taste.

Taco Mexicali.
Taco Mexicali. Catherine Barjau

Taco Mexicali

Preparing good vegan tacos is one of the obsessions of Antonio Luna, whose restaurant on Rambla del Raval has a specialized menu. “For the Mexicali we use the same batter as for the Ensenada shrimp tacos, but with a cauliflower filling that even the most reticent of this food likes,” smiles the chef.

Ingredients (for 16 tacos): for the batter: 1 cup of flour, 1 teaspoon of Royal-type yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic powder, ground black pepper, half a beer (170 milliliters). For the sauce: 6 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise, chipotle sauce to taste. In addition, 1 cauliflower, sunflower or mild olive oil, 16 nixtamalized corn tortillas, 1 cup of finely chopped red cabbage, limes to accompany.

Preparation: put the dry ingredients of the batter, mix well, add the beer and mix well again. Let stand 20 minutes in the fridge. Meanwhile, cut the cauliflower into florets and put them in two batches for four minutes in the microwave, in a bowl covered with a plate (or steam for six minutes). Let cool slightly and heat the oil to 180 degrees (until, when we put a piece of onion, it touches the bottom and rises to the surface). Coat the cauliflower and fry until golden brown, drain and serve on the tortillas heated on both sides, on a little red cabbage and with the sauce on top. Accompany with lime.

Tacos, nachos and micheladas at Taco Alto, Barcelona.
Tacos, nachos and micheladas at Taco Alto, Barcelona.Catherine Barjau

michelada

A beer seasoned with spicy, acid and sweet flavors. It is served in different versions, from the chelada with just salt and lemon to the clamato, which takes its name from the tomato juice seasoned with clams with which it is served. The one proposed from Taco Alto is known as Cuban and is prepared with sauce.

Ingredients (for four micheladas): 60 milliliters (ml) of Worcestershire sauce (Perrins), 45 ml of Maggi juice, 45 ml of Chamoy sauce —plus the amount needed to frost the glass—, 150 ml of lime juice, salt, Tajín in powder, Valentina sauce or similar to taste, salt, a 330 ml beer (ideally Mexican), a few slices of lime.

Preparation: mix the sauces and frost four glasses, half of each with lime juice and salt and the other half with Chamoy and Tajín. Put three ice cubes in each glass, pour in the beer and top with a slice of lime.

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