August 8, 2020

The Lake Front

News for the students. By the students.

A true classic: The street taco

SAN ANTONIO — There are several different types and ways to make tacos, but have you ever wondered where they came from? This recipe for skirt steak, carne asada, tacos is very budget-friendly and does not take long to make, which is a perfect meal if you are short on time or feeling slothful. All you need is skirt steak, salt and pepper, vegetable oil, green bell peppers, and flour or corn tortillas. You can easily upgrade this recipe by adding guacamole, pico de gallo, cilantro, onions or anything else that comes to mind.

History 

Tacos are a staple food in Mexican culture, but there is no definite origin of when and where they originated. One theory suggests that the taco is from the 18th century and the silver mines in Mexico. In these mines, when the miners used the word “taco,” they were referring to the charges applied to excavate ore, which was gunpowder rolled in a paper that was then placed into holes carved in the rock. It was not until the end of the 19th century that tacos were referenced in an archive or dictionary, and the first tacos described were called tacos de minero– miner’s tacos. 

The first time tacos were seen in the U.S. was in a newspaper from 1905. This was when Mexican migrant workers began working in the mines and railroads. Mexican food was seen as street food, lower-class food and became associated with a group of women called the Chili Queens. The Chili Queens were San Antonio street vendors that earned extra money for selling tacos during festivals. When tourists visited San Antonio, they came for two things, the Alamo and the Chili Queens.

The Chili Queens of San Antonio. Texashillcounty.com

Tacos became Americanized by having subtle changes from an authentic Mexican street taco. Both included a type of meat, carne asada, chicken, pork, but Americanized tacos included the option of ground beef and was on a flour tortilla, Mexican tacos were on corn tortillas. Tacos became a mainstream American food after the children of the migrant workers gained citizenship for fighting in World War II and continued to eat Mexican food even with higher incomes and more diverse pallets.

Mexican street tacos. asimplepantry.com

“Travelers and tourists who came to San Antonio usually got around to these open-air Mexican restaurants before they took time to visit our world-famous patriotic shrine which so many of our visitors mispronounce as ‘the A-lay-mo,'” said Frank Bushick, the author of a Glamorous day in San Antonio.

Ingredients

  • Skirt steak
  • Salt and pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Green bell peppers (one or two depending on preference)
  • Flour/Corn tortillas
Carne asada taco with green bell peppers

Toppings

  • Avocado/Guac
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Onions
  • Lime

How to

The first step is to prepare the steak, ideally by having it marinate in spices, but since we are short on time, seasoning it with salt and pepper will do just fine. Once the meat is ready to begin cutting the steak against the grain, it is essential to cut against the grain because the fibers are cut, making them shorter and more comfortable to chew once the meat is cooked.

Once the pan is hot, add about two teaspoons of vegetable oil and ensure the pan is coated with the oil by rotating it in a circular motion. Next, add the meat. If the pan is hot enough, then the meat should begin sizzling on impact.

While the meat is cooking, cut the green bell peppers by slicing the top and bottom of the pepper off, remove the seeds and guts, then slice the pepper into strips.

While the meat is cooking, cut the green bell peppers by slicing the top and bottom of the pepper off, remove the seeds and guts, then slice the pepper into strips.

Peppers added to pan with skirt steak (carne asada)

After five to seven minutes, flip the meat and add the peppers into the pan then cover the pan. You can add more oil if the meat is dry, this will help add moisture and steam the peppers. Keep the pan covered until the meat is cooked to its preferred cook temperature, and the peppers are soft enough for your liking.

Finally, all that needs to be done is to warm up the tortillas, place the meat and peppers in, then enjoy!

Temperature chart for how done the meat is wanted.

“Growing up tacos were one of my favorite meals and can be completed with a side of charro beans,” said Our Lady of the Lake University student, Victoria Herrera.

“Even though I am not a fan of [green] bell peppers, I would still cook the meat with them then leave them out of the taco because of the flavor they add,” said Texas A&M San Antonio student, Edward Ayala.

SAM THE COOKING GUY

If you do not feel like cooking because of a long day no need to worry, there are plenty of great places to get street tacos in San Antonio. Some of the highest-rated street taco destinations include Fat Boy Street tacos, Taquitos West Ave, Taquitos Mexico, and Tacos El Primo.

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