Tasty Tuesdays – Taco night
You got it, it’s time for another Tasty Tuesday – this week, we’re talking tacos. Tacos? In Thailand? Why is this anything to write about? This sort of meal is a cinch to whip up back home in the States, but let me tell you, preparing this dinner here was like being in a pressure cooker for an hour. Yes, it took me an hour to make tacos tonight (not counting all the chopping and running around I did earlier this afternoon).
Since we now live in Southeast Asia, in the country of Thailand, the availability of food ingredients that are common in the States wanes quite a bit. Let me explain – since beef is not common in Thailand, I ended up making our tacos with ground pork (which took 2 different trips, to 2 different stores, in 2 different parts of town to find). Cheese is also rare and expensive, so when we see it, we evaluate the price for our budget, buy it, freeze it, and use it sparingly. Sour cream is one of those things that is sometimes there, sometimes not – tonight was a “not” night, so I improvised with another sort of creamy dressing. Veggies are plentiful, so no trouble with the onion, tomato, or lettuce. Salsa, when you can find it, is expensive, so we use that sparingly as well. But, tortillas… well, there aren’t any. Anywhere. This is the sort of situation that forces me to use my creativity (and the internet!) in the kitchen and figure out how to make this dinner work. So… I made tortillas. Yep, from scratch, with my own two hands.
I have to say, it really is sort of fun, and it isn’t all that difficult to make them once you get going, either. They’re just flour, shortening, salt, and a little bit of warm water. Flatten them, pop ’em in a hot pan for 30 seconds per side, and voila! You have fresh flour tortillas, ready to fill.
But wait, if they’re so simple to create, then why did it take an hour to make them tonight? There are two reasons. First, I didn’t have any shortening. I know which stores carry it here in Lopburi, but I also know there are many different flavors that are sold… and since I am just now learning how to read and write the Thai language, I can’t read which package is what flavor yet! So, I had to improvise instead by freezing a combination of oil and flour into a paste-like substance that blended with the flour beautifully just as shortening would have. Yes! I used the freeze time then, to prepare the meat, and by the time everything else was ready, it was time to make the tortillas. The other reason why it took so long to make these lovely wraps is that when I turn on the gas and light our stove, the small kitchen area instantly fills with heat, and my forearms even begin to sweat. Between every tortilla, I had to step out into the living room and stand in front of the fan for a minute. I’m not kidding. 🙂
This is only my second time making tortillas, and I’m very pleased with how they turned out! The first time I made them was about a month ago, and I failed to check if my house had been outfitted with a rolling pin before I started the process. Oops!
I tried my best to flatten the dough with the side of a glass, then stretching and tossing the tortillas like pizza dough, but they turned out a bit more like flatbread. Looked weird, too thick, but they still tasted good! This time though, I had all the right equipment. I since bought a rolling pin, and my mother sent me one of the best kitchen inventions ever – a pastry frame. Thanks to the frame, my tortillas turned out perfectly! Super thin, very round, and without alot of excess flour to keep them from sticking to the table as I rolled them out. I can only imagine the cookies, pie crusts, and other creations that will come now as a result of my pastry frame arriving… Thanks, Mom!
Alright, that’s it for now. And seriously, you need to try making your own tortillas. If I can make them in a 110 degree kitchen in Thailand, you can definitely make them in your kitchen in the States. Have fun!