I’ve posted my grandmothers recipes on this site a time or two and this recipe is no different. Well, maybe it’s a little different. Not where it counts though. Not the most important thing. What’s the most important thing? I’m glad you asked. That’d be the taco shells. That’s the key to making them hers.
Maybe I should formally introduce you to my grandmother, first. World, meet Peggy:
This is my favorite picture. It was taken either on her wedding day or close to it. Probably just close to it. I don’t really know. Wasn’t she pretty? Pop, my grampa was a pretty attractive guy too. They made a cute couple. She cooked a lot, and he ate a lot. So as you may be able to tell, back in days of yore, my grandfather was in the Navy and my grandma’s favorite thing was to soak up the culture of wherever they were. And by culture, I mean cuisine. They lived in such exotic places as Guantanamo Bay, Japan, New Jersey, and Coronado. This recipe comes from the locals of Coronado. Thank god for Coronado. And my grandmother. I remember the first time my mom took us to Coronado and Old Town San Diego. It was after my grandmother had passed and we went to this little mexican restaurant and I was shocked. They actually made tacos JUST like my grandmothers! It was amazing. I hadn’t had them in years and it was so awesome to be brought right back to that delicious food memory. For an Irish girl she made some mean tacos.
It was shortly thereafter that I decided I would just have to try to make these for myself. How hard could it be? Well ladies and gentlemen, it’s a touch harder than you’d think. And the key/difficulty was in the shells. I’m not gonna lie and say I made the tortillas or anything. I’m not THAT good.
Here’s how it works though. You need to get corn tortillas. Not the tortillas that are in the refrigerator section, the kind that are in the bread section of the grocery store. I don’t know what it is about the ones in the refrigerator section but they are NOT the same.
Then, you want to get a small skillet. Just big enough to fit the shells. You can use a bigger one but really it just wastes the oil. I like to use my little 8″ skillet. Fill that up with any oil, just not olive oil. I use canola or vegetable. Heat it up at medium high heat. You’ll know it’s ready when you can drop a little piece of the tortilla into the oil and it sizzles. ** NOTE – make sure you watch the oil and that it doesn’t burn. If it looks like it’s cooking too fast turn down the heat. The oil will remain hot and if it starts to cool down you can turn up the heat again but you do NOT want to burn the oil or you’ll be in for a world of gross tacos.
Place the tortilla into the skillet and fold it in half, holding the top half above the oil with some tongs. Hold it there for about 30-45 seconds, and then flip it over and do the same thing again with the other side. Then you want to sit them folded side up on a paper towel (that is nowhere near your hot oil – we don’t want a fire). Sprinkle some salt on them and that’s it. There’s a fine line though between soggy tacos and perfectly chewy. The perfect taco is mostly crunchy but with some chew to it. You just have to try it a couple of times. I think I made this recipe two or three times before I really got it. It’s also nice to start just by making chips. And the chips are way easier.
For the chips, you want to just cut the tortilla into quarters, and drop them into the oil. Flip after about 45 seconds. When you take them out, pat them with a paper towel, then salt them, and that’s it. Also, make a lot of them. Your family is going to want to eat them en masse. They’re the best tortilla chips you’ll ever eat.
Now, here’s how I make this recipe my own. See, every time my grandma made the tacos it was exactly the same. Seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. It never changed. I made them this way all the time at first but then I discovered my love of the fish taco and I thought, yes, I must make grandmas tacos but with fish.
The best way to make a fish taco? Well in my opinion there are 2 secrets. The first, fish sticks. They’re perfect for tacos. The second, bloomin’ onion sauce. Yeah. I still add the lettuce and tomatoes but I don’t use cheese, sour cream or salsa. As for the bloomin’ onion sauce, it’s super easy. I used this recipe:
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use the smart balance fake mayo)
- 2 teaspoons ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoon creamed horseradish
It’s delicious and the perfect compliment to the fish. And that’s it for the recipe. I hope you make them, and I hope you enjoy them.
And don’t forget the chips!