The secret to the best tacos from the creator of ‘Chicano Eats’
As any follower of Esteban Castillo’s Chicano Eats Instagram account and blog will attest, his food is not shy. The graphic aesthetic this Fresno native brings to capturing the food of his Mexican-American heritage — a rainbow of conchas or an overflowing pan of chilaquiles — is refreshing and bold, each dish leaping off the screen like living pop art. What’s even better, the recipes are simple to follow and taste great.
Castillo released his first cookbook, “Chicano Eats,” on June 30, and it has all the colorful design of his digital presence plus a curated greatest-hits collection of recipes, all in one beautiful package. Of all the dishes I tried — fiery roasted sambal shrimp tacos, sticky michelada ribs with masa cornbread, creamy coconut horchata — my favorites are his incredibly easy tacos Tuxpeños. A guajillo- and ancho-chile-infused sauce seeps into pork shoulder while it braises — slow cooker, oven and pressure cooker (Instapot) methods are given — imbuing it with a brick-red color and warming spice.
The enjoyment of making it is matched by the pleasure of reading the recipe’s headnote, which relays how the tacos are traditionally piled in baskets and kept warm by the heat of their own steam. Here, however, Castillo piles the meat into freshly fried tortillas — adding a crunchy element to the soft, stewed meat — before doling out salsa de molcajete, diced onion, cilantro and radishes on top. It’s a twist that honors a regional classic while keeping the focus on how fun it is to eat it.
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