WHY CAN’T WE ALL JUST BEHAVE LIKE TACOS?
I don’t know, if there was any other single food-item in this world that, in the best sense possible, welcomes manipulations as much as say, tacos.
I mean think about it. In this world where the not-so-secret food-police who enforces the law of authenticity, still patrols much of the way we perceive and evaluate what and how we eat, this iconic Mexican establishment seems to be freely, and deliciously if I might add, looming well outside of its strict jurisdiction. They have applaudedly gone over and beyond their traditional origins, shown more adaptability and dare I say, humour, that’s unbound by the narrowness of ethnicity without muss or fuss. How does it do it? This means, to me at least, more than eating. If you just take a look at this mad house we’re all living under now – where you can’t cook a pot of bolognese sauce without turning some Italian nonna in her graves, or enjoy any other blurred out version of mapo tofu without stepping on some bitches’ toes (who me?), or fucking crack a joke without hate – it would appear that, fingers crossed, the modern tacos are practically a beacon for social miracles. This is not me saying pure authenticity, in food or anything else, is bad, nor is it good. I guess, it’s only natural, a mean for us to identify with something, to belong, to cling onto a place in this world where we could find familiarity, call it pride, then do things to defend it. But here we are stuck, on this globe that we were told is supposed to be getting smaller and smaller by the days, and inherently for the same reason, more and more hostile by the minute. Diehard authenticity can taste more intolerant than delicious. And I mean that in a lot more ways than foods. So I guess here’s my question:
Why can’t we all just behave like tacos?
Tacos are friendly. Tacos are embracive. Tacos love being Korean just as much as they love being Mexican, and cares more about deliciousness than righteousness, and if only we could all talk this way out of our issues. Like how this conversation begin with the aroma that permeates the apartment when this big hunk of fat-marbled pork-butt roasts slowly in a sriracha-based sauce blended with Jamaican jerk-seasonings like ground allspice, cinnamon, cloves, freshly thymes, soy sauce and whatnots, until fork tender and sticky. Then it is fiercely chopped, with only love, into small bite-size pieces that get married back into its own spicy braising liquid, just so it could smoothly negotiate with a creamy and cooling dollop of avocado sour cream-mash. The finely minced tomato, shallot and cilantro salad agreed to its terms to bring refreshment and bites, while a contrasting voice of spicy salsa verde made of pureed kiwi, cilantro and green chilis, squirts its heated opinions all over the party. But ultimately, in cheers and toasts, everything welds into a mouthful of crazy goodness on top warm flour tortillas. It’s a melting pot within a melting pot. A true joint effort with only delicious intentions. And it’s the greatest testimony that even a seemingly chaotic and separate bunch of flavours or perspectives, can all together, work into an epic meal shared over a round table with laughters and mutual satisfactions.
Maybe, of course, we can’t all be like tacos. After all, we’re only humans. But one giant bite at these tacos. A small leap, to me at least, for hope in mankind.
- 26.5 oz (750 grams) pork shoulder/pork butt
- 1/4 cup (65 grams) sriracha sauce
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3 tbsp (40 grams) ginger, diced
- 2~3 (40 grams) scallion, white part only
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sugar
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4~5 green jalapeno, or long green chilis
- 1 whole green kiwi, peeled
- 1 large handful (50 grams) cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp pickling juice from pickled cucumber
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/3 tsp ground cumin
- 2 ripen avocado, skin and pit removed
- Equal amount of sour cream
- 2 tsp lime juice
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large tomato
- 4 shallots, finely minced
- 1 small handful cilantro, finely minced
- TO MAKE THE JERKED SRIRACHA ROAST PORK: Preheat oven on 320F/160C. In a blender, blend sriracha sauce, garlic, ginger, scallion, onion, fresh thyme leaves, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, sugar, cloves, ground allspice, black peppercorns, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, grated nutmeg and salt together until smooth. Rub the mixture evenly over the pork shoulder inside a small baking-dish, then cover with foil, leaving a small venting hole for steam to escape. Roast for 3:30~4 hours until the pork is very tender. Cut the pork into small bite-size pieces and mix well with the sauce. Can be done the day before.
- TO MAKE THE KIWI SALSA VERDE: Over open flames, toast jalapeno (or long green chilis) until thoroughly charred on the surface. Scrape off the charred skin with a small knife and discard, then remove part of the seeds as well (especially if you don't want it too spicy)(you should have about 32 grams of roasted jalapeno). In a blender, blend roasted japalpeno, kiwi, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, pickling juice, sugar and ground cumin until smoothly pureed. Transfer to a squeeze-bottle. Can be made the day ahead.
- BEFORE SERVING: Mash avocado, sour cream, lime juice and ground black pepper together until slightly chunky. Set aside. Squeeze out any excess juice from the tomato, then finely dice. Mix evenly with finely minced shallots and cilantro. Set aside.
- Re-toast or steam the flour tortillas until warm. Smear a generous amount of avocado cream on the bottom, then top with jerked sriracha roast pork and tomato toppings. Serve with lots of kiwi salsa verde and fresh lime.