When it comes to authentic Mexican tacos, simplicity is key. Unlike the overloaded versions often found outside of Mexico, the traditional taco focuses on showcasing the flavor of the main ingredient, be it carne asada, carnitas, or al pastor. And to accentuate the taste of the meat, two garnishes are often all you need: onion and cilantro.
The Power of Onion and Cilantro in Tacos
Onion and cilantro are the quintessential garnishes for traditional Mexican tacos. These two ingredients may seem unassuming, but they provide a balance of flavors that takes the humble taco to new culinary heights.
Onions: Offering a crisp, slightly sweet, and slightly spicy bite, onions are an excellent counterpoint to the rich, savory meat in a taco. They provide not only flavor but also a satisfying crunch, adding an essential textural element.
Cilantro: This fresh herb, with its unique, slightly citrusy flavor, provides a burst of freshness that helps cut through the richness of the meat. It's a bright contrast that adds another layer of flavor to the taco.
Together, onion and cilantro create a symphony of flavors and textures that perfectly enhance the star of the show: the meat.
How to Prepare Onion and Cilantro for Tacos
Preparing onion and cilantro for tacos couldn't be simpler. Here's how you do it:
Onions: Choose a white or red onion, peel it and dice it into small, bite-sized pieces. You want the onion to be a subtle flavor and texture complement, not overpower the other ingredients.
Cilantro: Rinse the cilantro thoroughly to remove any dirt or grit. Pat it dry with a paper towel, then chop it up roughly. You want to include both the leaves and the tender parts of the stems, as both have plenty of flavors.
When serving, simply sprinkle a bit of the chopped onion and cilantro over each taco. Remember, the goal is to enhance the other flavors, not overpower them, so a little will go a long way.
In conclusion, while there are many ways to dress up a taco, sometimes, the simplest way is the best. The combination of onion and cilantro adds just the right amount of contrast and complexity to a taco, creating a balanced, flavorful bite that's hard to beat. So the next time you're making tacos, don't forget the onion and cilantro.