Friday, June 14, 2013

Corn Tacos with Mexican Slaw & Poblano Dressing

Dear Foodies,

I've been waiting all year long to share this recipe here. I discovered fresh corn tortilla's and tacos last summer and they were my staple food for a good month or two. But it was way past fresh corn season by the time I got around to putting the recipe together. This year I hope its right not time so you guys can enjoy it as much as I do. Summer in SD is not until July or August, we are going through what is called June 'gloom' right now. Overcast days with 60-65F temperature hardly feels like summer. One look at the farmers market stalls though and you'll know otherwise. Just like summer and mangoes will go hand in hand for me, its fresh summer corn that I look forward to here. The kernels are so tender and juicy that they hardly need any cooking. When separating the kernels form the corn, a good portion of it ends up being a snack. I nuke them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes while still in their husks sometimes. Once cool to handle, remove the husks, slide half a lime through the kernels, sprinkle salt, chili powder and call it dinner.

This taco recipe is filled with some of my favorite components. A stunning slaw has just three main ingredients - purple/red cabbage, carrots and jicama. I started using jicama only last year after watching a Mexican food show on TV. I had always seen them next to cauliflowers at the local store here but never really paid them notice. Eaten raw, jicama is super crunchy and has a mild sweet flavor. It's rich in fiber and adds a wonderful texture to salads. I dress the salad with a sharp lime dressing with lots of cilantro and a hint of cumin and chile powder to add zing. This simple slaw is clearly greater than the sum of its parts. Its perfect for picnics or do ahead scenarios as the veggies are sturdy enough to hold up against the acidic dressing for a few hours. And more importantly, it looks stunning on the plate!

If you make nothing else from this recipe, you should at least try the poblano dressing immediately. I use poblano's instead of green bell peppers in quesadilla's or stuff them with the sauteed corn and red peppers, a little cheese and bake them for a quick dinner. Once the poblano's are grilled/broiled it takes 5 mins to make the sauce. I use thick homemade yogurt, scallions, a lot of cilantro, some lime juice and roasted cumin powder. A few recipes call for garlic but I don't like its pungent flavor in raw form and avoid it here. Throw everything in a blender jar, give it a few pulses until the sauce to smooth and creamy. And its ready to be used as a salad dressing or a condiment for burgers and sandwiches.

For these taco's, I separated the kernels from the cob and charred them in a dry pan. Seasoned them lightly with salt and pepper. The star of the dish though are the vibrant slaw and poblano chile dressing that packs a punch. I make both every few weeks and store in the fridge for a few days. I made the slaw for a event at work a few weeks back it was enjoyed by all.

Corn Tacos with Mexican Cabbage slaw and Poblano dressing
Prep time: 45mins
Cook time: 15mins
Servings: 3-4
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Roasted/Charred corn (on an open flame or kernels sauteed in a dry pan)
  • Radish sprouts or any other kind of your choice
Mexican Cabbage-Carrot-Jicama Slaw
  • 1/2  - small head of Red cabbage, thinly sliced, approx. 3 cups
  • 1/2 - Jicama, julienned, approx. 1.5 cup
  • 3 - Carrots, julienned or shredded, approx 1.5 cup
  • 1/2 cup - Cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp - Jalapeno/Serrano. minced or mexican red chile powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp - roasted, Cumin powder
  • 2-3 - Limes, juiced
  • 2 Tbsp - Olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  1. For the salad dressing, combine lime juice, olive oil, salt, chile and roasted cumin powder. Adjust seasonings to taste. I tend to use more lime juice in mine. Toss together all the veggies, cilantro and half the dressing adding more as needed. Set aside for 30 mins at room temperature or refrigerated to develop flavors.
Poblano Chile Dressing
  • 3 - Poblano chiles
  • 1 - Scallion
  • 1/2 cup - Cilantro leaves and tender stalks
  • 1.5 cups - thick plain Yogurt or (3/4 cup buttermilk + 2 Tbsp sour cream)
  • 1/2 tsp - freshly roasted Cumin powder
  • 1-2 Tbsp - Lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp - Garlic, grated (optional)
  • Salt to taste 
  1. Roast poblano chiles over a gas flame or under the broiler until charred all around. Transfer while hot to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 10mins. Once cool to handle the peel should come off easily, discard the seeds and membrane as well.
  2. Transfer coarsely chopped poblano, scallions, cilantro and yogurt to the blender jar and process until smooth. Add salt, lime juice and cumin powder to taste. Use immediately or store refrigerated in an air tight container for up to a 1 day.
Warm the corn tortillas lightly to make them pliable again. This can be done on a skillet or cover a stack of them in aluminum foil and place in a warm over for 10 mins. Spread out all your fixings on a table for a taco bar or assemble them as you go. Place a spoonful of slaw on the taco, top with charred corn, radish sprouts and finally drizzle a spoonful of poblano chile dressing over all of it, right before serving.

Notes: Swap charred corn with roasted onions & peppers or marinated and cooked tofu/mushrooms or crisp sauteed potatoes or well, the choices are endless. You can also add a zippy guacamole tomato salsa or tomatillo salsa as topping additions.

This is a perfect summer dish loaded with crunchy veggies and vibrant flavors that keep these tacos light and refreshing. Since its all about the fillings I like to use smaller tortilla's and prefer the flavor of corn tortilla's over flour. There are no strict rules with this though so make it your own and use flavors and ingredients you enjoy. Each component is good on its own too and can be used in many other forms. If I have left over salsa's and roasted corn or peppers I make a burrito bowl with the addition of black beans and rice. Add some steamed edamame, cranberries and toasted slivered almonds to the slaw for a light mid-week lunch.

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