Tacos are Mexico’s gift to the world. The utensil-free snack is just a corn tortilla folded around food, but truly great tacos take this concept to the next level. They’re about balance. They’re about optimal ingredients. They’re about the love that goes into the construction of the taco. They’re pretty much tiny artworks to be admired, and no one know this better than chef David Camhi from La Lupita Taco Restaurant in Mexico’s San Jose del Cabo. We had a chat to him about how to create the perfect version of the world-famous snack.
What makes the perfect taco?
As with all of the dishes and specialties in the world, the ingredients are the star of the show. It doesn’t matter if it’s beef, chicken, duck or seafood.; if you have the best ingredients, you will have the best taco. And this goes beyond the fillings – please don’t forget to consider the quality of your tortilla. Whether it’s white corn, purple corn, or flour, it must be great quality.
What surprising ingredient do you use in tacos in Mexico?
Our ingredient lists, and our mixes and matches, are infinite. We put everything inside of a tortilla, from eggs, pork, grasshoppers, cheese, lamb, veggies and rice – you name it. The taco can be soft, fried, baked, and – yes Australians – even crunchy. Sauce goes on the side or on top, either a small amount or literally swimming on it.
Are there rules about tacos that everyone should follow?
The magical thing to know about tacos is that there are no rules. No order, no structure or process. You can add whatever you like. You can have four kinds of salsa, or none; lemon, garnishes, or plain. The only rule is to have the best tortilla.
What are your favourite taco combinations?
I love ’em all. We, as Mexicans, grow up eating tacos: if you can open your mouth, you can eat a taco. But yes, there are some that blow my mind. The cheese crust pastor is out of this world. Instead of a tortilla, we use a cheese crust, topped with pastor-style (spit grilled) pork, onion, cilantro and a small slice of pineapple. Another one is the traditional carnitas: slow cooked pork with ten different varieties of spices, habanero chillis, red sauce and twist of lemon. You’ll be in heaven.
I can’t forget two incredible tacos from La Lupita Taco Restaurant: our own Roasted Ribs, which are boneless short ribs cooked for a couple of hours and mixed with a delicious local goat’s cheese, arugula, cherry tomatoes and chipotle sauce. Last but not least is the Duck & Mole taco. Mole is a truly traditional Mexican sauce made from ingredients like chocolate, chillis, peanuts and garlic. It’s to die for! In our special recipe we add the duck meat and top it with a hibiscus compote, then serve on a handmade flour tortilla.
How do you eat a taco without spilling the filling?
There is a technique: first of all, lean forward with your upper body, standing or sitting, and tilt the end of your taco towards the sky and enjoy – this will prevent the filling from spilling. But remember, in every taco, there should be a balance, like in life…not too much filling, so the tortilla can stand the pressure!!
In Cabo, what are the most popular tacos?
There are a couple of signature tacos in Baja California. The Baja Scallops is one I should mention – with breaded baby scallops and garnish of carrot, cucumber and chipotle mayo, all in a homemade flour tortilla.
La Lupita Taco & Mezcal is located at Centro, San José del Cabo, B.C.S., Mexico.