How to Make Authentic Tacos in 2 Delicious Recipes

While tacos might not be scientifically part of a balanced diet, we here at The Manual like to think they are. If you have a taco in each hand, or you hold a taco equally between two hands, that’s balance, isn’t it (Unscientific short answer: yes.)

Because of this belief, we’ve spent a lot of time eating tacos of all sorts. And what we’ve come to know — as most of you out there already know — most tacos that you get at Mexican restaurants here in the U.S. aren’t true tacos. Sure, they’re tacos in a sense, but they’re Americanized, more often topped with crappy shredded lettuce and cheddar cheese that came out of an industrial-sized bag.

Now, at certain times and places, that’s great (the time being 2 a.m. and the place, obviously, Taco Bell), but at any other time, you should be looking for the real deal. Why? Because they’re f’ing delicious, that’s why.

Most major cities have at least one place that is serving up authentic tacos now, but if you happen to be in a place that doesn’t have one — or it’s so good that you can’t get a seat — then you’re going to have to get your taco fix at home.

To help you in the pursuit of taco greatness, we asked chefs Silvestre Mora and Joe Lonigro of New York City’s Toro Loco and Otto’s Tacos, respectively, how to make some damn delicious authentic tacos. Read on to see their recipes for making carne asada and blackened shrimp tacos. (And don’t forget to pick up some nice sipping tequila while you’re at it.)

Tacos Carne Asada

Tacos Carne Asada Toro Loco
Molly Tavoletti

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sirloin steak
  • 6 4-inch Corn tortillas
  • 2 cup guacamole (our favorite recipe can be found here)
  • 1 Spanish white onion
  • .5 cup All-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 2 Garlic cloves, pressed
  • Salt to taste

Method: 

  1. Marinate steak in olive oil, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves for at least one hour.
  2. Peel onion and cut into thin slices.
  3. Toss onions in flour and fry in vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add salt to onions to taste.
  5. Add salt to steak to taste and cook in sauté pan over medium heat to desired temperature.
  6. Cut steak into quarter-inch slices.
  7. Warm tortillas in oven.
  8. Top tortilla with steak, crispy onions, and .5 cup of guacamole each.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro and Charred Jalapeño Aioli

Blackened Shrimp Tacos Recipe Ottos Tacos
Otto's Tacos

Blackening Seasoning

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz chipotle powder
  • 3 oz taco seasoning
  • .5 oz black pepper
  • .5 oz garlic powder
  • .5 oz cumin powder ( ground cumin )
  • .5 oz Salt
  • 1 tsp Mexican Oregano

Method:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, Combine all ingredients and mix together using a fork.
  2. Set aside to use for coating shrimp.

Cilantro and Charred Jalapeño Aioli

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb Mayo
  • 2 large jalapeños
  • 1 cup packed cilantro
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • .5 oz salt

Method:

  1. Measure out all ingredients.
  2. Using tongs, Roast each jalapeño over an open flame on your stovetop turning frequently. Roast each jalapeño until the entire skin is black.
  3. Place Jalapenos in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. Let rest for 5 minutes until they have cooled.
  4. Using a paper towel, rub the black char off of the jalapenos. (For a mild sauce, remove the vein and stem from the center of the jalapeno using a paring knife.)
  5. add peeled jalapeños, mayo, cilantro, cumin, salt and garlic into a small blender.
  6. Pulse until all ingredients begin to combine.
  7. Turn on low speed for 30 seconds until you get a smooth creamy sauce. (If the cilantro is not mixing in well, stop after 15 seconds and fold it into the mayo mix).
  8. Reserve for drizzling over blackened shrimp!

Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of 90-110s Shrimp (bite-sized 8-10 pieces per taco) OR 40-60s (4-5 pieces per taco)
  • 20 small or 10 large corn tortillas (preferably yellow corn)
  • 4 limes
  • 7 oz blackening seasoning
  • 1 large white onion

Method:

  1. Add shrimp to a Medium mixing bowl.
  2. Using your hands dust the top layer of shrimp with seasoning. Mix with your left hand and continue to pour seasoning ( try to mix quickly to ensure even dusting and to avoid clumping).
  3. If you have a sheet pan you may also lay the shrimp out onto the sheet pan and fully coat all shrimp with seasoning.
  4. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat.
  5. Lightly oil each side of your tortillas and cook in the skillet for one minute per side to achieve a slight crisp and char.
  6. After cooking each tortilla stack hot tortillas and wrap in foil to reserve heat.
  7. Turn the same skillet to high, place one layer of shrimp and cook for 1 minute on the first side to blacken the seasonings then flip and cook for an additional 1 minute. The shrimp should be white through the center. Remember: the shrimp is dead, so make sure not to overcook! Work quickly between batches.
  8. Remove cooked shrimp and set aside. Repeat the same method until all of the shrimp is cooked.

Build the Tacos

  1. Place a tortilla on a plate.
  2. Place as little or as much (we recommend much!) shrimp onto the tortilla.
  3. Drizzle liberally with the cilantro and charred jalapeño aioli.
  4. Top with a pinch of cilantro, a pinch of onion, and a fresh squeeze of lime juice.
  5. Eat two before you tell anyone that the food is ready and enjoy!