Who doesn’t like tacos? There is no doubt in my mind that these are not even in the ballpark of authenticity, but they’re tasty.

Dump everything on the table so that people can build their own. It’s about inclusion, not that you’re too lazy or tired to assemble…

Most families in Australia are very familiar with mince meat fillings (we often cheat and spice up leftover bolognaise sauce – we seriously have no shame!) but I’ve fallen in love with the food truck scene (not possible to experience this during COVID-19 season) and there I met fish tacos!

My suggestion here is to pick a protein and a sauce and go for it.

Cooking time is pretty quick, regardless of the variety (unless you’re making stock to make brisket to make tacos… I just pop some in the freezer, ready to go! Doesn’t matter if it’s been flavoured with Vietnamese spices, right?)

Make the tortillas first – stack and wrap them with Glad Wrap – they need to hang out together and sweat to keep them soft. Make the sauces ahead of time, cover and keep in the fridge. Ditto for the salsas. If working with seafood, make the marinade but do not add the protein too early – you may start to cure the fish. Aim for 30 minutes for fish, about 1-2 hours for shellfish. Other proteins can marinate longer.

Tortillas – make your own!
1-2 proteins (see below)
1-2 sauces (see below)
1-2 salsas (see below)
Garnishes – lettuce, avocado, onions, tomatoes if desired

General method
1 – Prepare tortillas, sauces and salsas. Set aside.

2 – Prepare marinades, add protein (except for fish – only marinade this for 20-60 minutes)

3 – Cook protein, serve. Allow diners to assemble their own, family style. Finger food wins!

Fish taco with spiced cocktail sauce

Protein: Fish (makes enough for 6-8 tacos – we like to use snapper or flathead fillets) Or simply cook up some battered or crumbed fish and use the other stuff for flavouring. That’s good too!

¼ cup finely chopped coriander
½  finely chopped jalapeno
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
2 ts chilli powder
zest of a lime
3 TB lime juice

Prawn taco with green sauce and prawn cracker

Marinate fish for 20-60 minutes, then cook in a pan. Works well with the spiced cocktail sauce and an onion salsa.

Protein: Prawn (allow 3 medium/2 large prawns per taco)

zest and juice from 1 lime
2 ts cumin
2 ts chilli powder
1 ts garlic powder
½ ts onion powder
¼ ts cayenne pepper
½ ts salt

Marinate prawns for 30 minutes (up to a few hours), then cook in a pan. Works well with green sauce and quick pickled cabbage. If you want to serve with prawn crackers, learn how to make them here.

Brisket taco with green sauce, pickled cabbage and spicy cocktail sauce

Protein: Beef brisket (use “discards” from beef stock)
Use whatever flavours you like – I make the Vietnamese beef and freeze it – definitely not authentic, but very tasty! Another option would be to use dry spice mix I use in enchiladas and cook up with some tomato paste:
1 TB garlic powder
1 TB onion powder
2 TB cumin
2 TB sweet paprika
1 ts smoky paprika
4 TB brown sugar
4 TB dried oregano
2 TB dried coriander leaf
2 ts cayenne pepper

Protein: Beef mince (ie “normal” tacos!!)
Use the dry spice mix above.
Brown mince, garlic and onions in a pan. Add spices and some tomato paste, and some stock. Simmer and reduce.

Pulled pork belly taco with spicy green sauce and pickled red cabbage.

Protein: Pork (pork belly is awesome)
I cooked up some pork stock just for the tacos! Belly pork, fennel, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, parsnip (whatever vegetables you have), bouquet garni, peppercorns, star anise… whatever you like! Simmer covered for 3-5 hours, remove the rind and pull the delicious meat apart!

It’s so delicious that we didn’t add anything else to it.

Seafood cocktail sauce

Sauce: Spicy cocktail
This is a seafood cocktail sauce with hot or wing sauce added. Please don’t report me for being ethnographically blasphemous.
50ml low fat mayonnaise
50ml cream
40ml tomato sauce
1 TB hot sauce or wing sauce (more if you want)
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
2 ts lemon juice
scant ½ ts cayenne pepper
3 decent shakes Tabasco sauce
pinch of umami salt and pepper to taste

Green sauce

Sauce: Green sauce
This has a kick to it. If you don’t have a Thermomix, use a stick blender. This can also be used as a dressing for taco coleslaw.
Blend the following in a Thermomix:
Half a bunch of coriander (about ½ cup)
3 spring onions
¼ cup water
¼ cup oil
2 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 lime zested and juiced
¾ cup sour cream (add more if needed)
1 TB condensed milk (optional) for sweetness
2 TB hot sauce
1 TB sriracha sauce
1 ts umami salt

Quick pickled cabbage

Salsa: Pickled cabbage
This is a quick pickle. Use a mandolin to cut vegetables into 1mm thick slices to aid the pickling. Or, use a pickled cabbage from your pantry!
⅛ red cabbage shredded to 1mm (about 2 cups)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
¼ red onion in 1mm slices
½ ts salt
2 TB red wine vinegar

Combine all ingredients and leave for at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally if you remember to.

Pico de gallo

Salsa: Pico de gallo
Simply mix and eat!
½ red onion, finely diced
1 spring onion, chopped
5 tomatoes, finely diced
½ bunch coriander, chopped
1 TB lime juice (more to taste)
¼ ts salt

Corn salsa

Salsa: Corn
Another mix and eat experience:
Kernels cut from 2 cobs of corn (cut lying flat on the board)
½ red capsicum, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
¼ bunch coriander, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely diced
1½ lime, zest and juice
3 ts white wine vinegar
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of cumin powder
pinch of salt

Pineapple salsa

Salsa: Pineapple
Yet another mix and eat experience:
½ fresh pineapple, core removed and diced finely
½ red capsicum, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
¼ bunch coriander, finely chopped
½ jalapeno, finely diced
1 lime, zest and juice