It’s sort of funny that last night’s Top Chef episode featured a taco challenge because I’ve spent the past week in a veritable taco-haze, eating those little nuggets of Mexican joy with reckless abandon. In fact, I’m in such a taco fever that I did the unthinkable: I tried to make some at home. The results were mixed.
Pictures of this grand culinary adventure, as well as some other Mexican-themed goodness, after the jump…

First, let me say that people who know me know that Mexican is not one of my favorite cuisines, but I’ve had a little bit of an awakening over the past few months, spurred on in large part by my first trip to Hills institution Don Antonio’s. That little visit, which came in the last days of TVgasm, was supposed to be a joke, but dammit, the food was so good that I’ve been indulging in Mexican more and more ever since. It’s gotten to a point where now I’ve spent the past week having tacos nearly every single day. I’ve discovered that I greatly enjoy the hallowed fish taco (shrimp, specifically). They’re not only tasty, but relatively healthy too. I could have one every day, dammit. But why fork over all that cash when I could just make them at home? And so the grand experiment began!
First I spent about twenty minutes researching recipes on I didn’t really find too many that spoke to me, especially since many of them were by Emerill, who I hate. As a result, I kind of mixed and matched from a whole variety of chefs and then jumped into the fray.
Step one: I defrosted my frozen Trader Joe’s shrimp and then marinated them in an olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper mixture. I would have used lime juice, but I didn’t have any limes. My quick savvy substitution made me feel like a true chef. Instincts!

Auspicious beginnings!

While the shrimp did their thang, I got to work making a tangy chipotle sour cream. It was basically just chipotles and, um, sour cream. I didn’t seed the peppers though. For some reason I thought it would be okay. “It won’t be that hot,” I told myself. Fast forward thirty minutes later, and I’m ready to pass out next to my plate of tacos. Lesson learned. Sort of embarrassing too: felled by a fish taco.

Hot, but delicious.

The humble preparations for my taco odyssey. And yes, my stove is from the Eisenhower administration.

Anticipation builds…

I present… tacos! Three glorious tacos!

The result? They actually turned out quite well. The only problem was that I didn’t leave the tortillas on the grill long enough, and as a result, they were sort of grainy and mealy. BLAST! But the shrimp were tasty, and the cabbage on top worked quite nicely — although, I did add a little too much. If Padma were sampling, she’d surely spill half the cabbage all over her shoes.
Nevertheless, while the tacos weren’t a grand slam, they were a success. Plus, later in the week, I made them again, and this time I used limes instead of lemons and grilled the tortillas much longer. There was still some graininess, but that may just be due to the quality of the tortillas. Nevertheless, it was much better the second time around.
And, just for shits and giggles, here are a few other Mexican-themed photos from this past week. They start at local bar Cabo Cantina where I’ve been known to enjoy many a cheap cocktail.

My downfall Saturday night.

Feeling artistic and drunk, I took this photo of my margarita straw head-on. My friend, IndianJones, absolutely could not comprehend it. “What’s that red dot?” he asked. “It’s the straw!” I told him. “Really?” he replied, his brain on the verge of exploding. It took about a minute of convincing before he finally settled down.

Out of nowhere, a guy gave me a free L.A. Galaxy t-shirt. GOOOAAAALLLL!!!!

Later, we headed over to another Mexican-themed bar, El Guapo, where pong was going full force.

My friend Nhanimal was housed. Here she is with some guy who just wanted to get back to his game.

Amusingly, that guy in the photo is Dave Annable from Brothers and Sisters. His college roommate is a good friend of mine from high school. We bonded.

And that’s basically it for my Mexican adventures this week. Hope they were as exciting for you as they were for me.

9 replies on “ADVENTURES IN MEXICAN STUFF: Taco Experiment Proves To Be Appropriately Top Chef-fy”

  1. Now you’ve made me crave Mexican food and a cold beer! Hmmm…2:30pm here in the Bay Area. Too early for a cold one?

  2. B-Side your shrimp tacos look delish-except for those tortillas!!!
    Try Guerrero, La Gloria, or Mission brand tortillas next time

  3. Next time, try site doesn’t take as long to load, and the reviews are more pretentious and hilarious next time you need some culinary inspiration.
    Usually I cook seafood without defrosting first to avoid the mushy mealiness that sometimes happens with defrosting first. TJs (pasta and) tortillas are not the best. I agree with la diva.

  4. So I don’t have to defrost the shrimp? I can just throw them on the grill or the skillet frozen? This could be a great time saver.

  5. Shrimp, no. Just cook a little longer, general rule is double the cooking time. If it’s a frozen block of fish or something you are going to bread, roll, or stuff, then I would either thaw in the frig overnight, or partially thaw in the microwave.
    Geez, listen to me, I’ve become Sandra Lee.

  6. I totally am blown away by the straw picture. How can you not be.
    and yes, B, shrimp can be grilled or boiled from the frozen state, no problem.

  7. So you are saying that the red dot is actually the straw- looking at it straight on?
    That is really just blowing my mind. I have to forward that picture.
    And those shrimp tacos look FANTASTIC! Mexican cuisine is my fav!

Comments are closed.