February 7, 2023
Posted: August 1, 2022 11:02 am
It’s not a secret anymore. The world loves tacos. In fact, the world has been in love with tacos for decades if not centuries. Men love tacos. Women love tacos. Single people stress how much they love tacos on their dating app profiles and find common ground every day with another human being over the fact that they love tacos.
Because tacos are delicious. Tacos transcend tastes and move mountains. Tacos extend borders and unite nations. Tacos are the common thread that brings civilizations together. This is not an exaggeration. I mean, have you been on any dating apps lately? Tacos, tacos, tacos. It’s all about tacos.
That said, when it comes to tacos, we’re consistently asking the wrong questions. We shouldn’t be asking questions about why people love tacos so much. The question we should be asking ourselves is: What are we doing to make tacos even better?
And the answer, my friends, is Baja sauce.
But before we get into Baja sauce, we need to unpack the very basic architecture of the taco.
Yeah, we’re going back to taco kindergarten here, but as with any sauce artistry, it’s important to understand the rules before you break the rules.
So what is a taco?
A taco is a corn or flour tortilla wrapped or folded around a filling. That’s it.
The possibilities for what can go inside a taco are endless, but the most common fillings are:
• Other toppings like pico de gallo, cilantro, diced onions, sliced jalapenos, pineapple
• Sauces that are red or green or brownish in color
• Sour cream or guacamole
• Pickled things
• Lime juice
• Hot sauce
• Baja sauce
The key to a great taco is in the balance of flavors and textures between the filling, the tortilla, and the toppings.
And you don’t want to overdo it.
Think about the last time you went to one of those self-serve frozen yogurt shops that have the choice of frozen yogurt and all of the toppings you can dump on your yogurt. If you want, you could go to town on that froyo. You could pile on three pounds of gummy worms if you wanted. You could smother it in fudge and marshmallows. But would it taste any good? No.
Because it’s all about the balance. A well-constructed taco must be balanced, or you might as well include the gummy worms.
If you find yourself at a taco party faced with a dozen different toppings, you need to show restraint. You don’t need to pile everything onto that poor taco. Choose the best ingredients to compliment the beef or carnitas or chicken or fish.
But if there happens to be a heaping bowl of a certain type of sauce. That’s a must-add.
We’re talking about Baja sauce.
If you’ve never heard of Baja sauce, then I’m sorry. You’ve gotten this far in life, and, well, you’re losing. But there’s still time to turn things around and win life.
And Baja sauce will get you over the goal line.
At its simplest, Baja sauce is a mayonnaise-based sauce that originated in Southern California in the 1970s. It’s typically made with mayonnaise, ketchup, lime juice, and hot sauce.
The key to a great Baja sauce is in the balance of flavors. You want the creaminess of the mayonnaise to be offset by the acidity of the lime juice and the ketchup. And you want just enough heat from the hot sauce to give it some zing without making your eyes water.
Of course, there are a million variations of Baja sauce out there. Some recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, garlic, onion powder, cumin, and paprika. Others add sour cream or buttermilk to thin it out.
The beauty of Baja sauce is that it’s so versatile. You can make it as simple or as complex as you want.
I like to keep things nice and simple, which is why this recipe only has two ingredients.
And you call yourself a chef?
No. Well, not in the traditional sense.
Fine, then let’s have it.
The super-simple Baja sauce that I am going to share with you today only has two ingredients. But they are very specific ingredients. And none of those ingredients are mayonnaise. If done right, then you’ll have the keys to the taco train for the rest of your life.
As the title of the post suggests, this is a super simple Baja sauce for fish tacos. But it can be for any taco. The reason that fish tacos get the spotlight is that the first time I whipped this up, it was to dab onto some next-level grilled fish tacos. But since discovering the simple Baja sauce recipe, I have since added it to steak tacos, chicken tacos, and even pulled-pork tacos. And it’s all one hundred percent yum.
• 4 tablespoons of sour cream
• 11 dashes of Tapatio hot sauce
Honestly, after looking at those ingredients, the instructions ought to be relatively self-explanatory. But if you still need some hand-holding, we are here for you.
First, get yourself a bowl. A cereal bowl should do the trick. Get yourself a spoon. Dump the four tablespoons of sour cream into the bowl. Then add the 11 dashes of Tapatio hot sauce.
Does it have to be Tapatio?
If you want to do it right, yes. And there is a reason for that, which we’ll get into in a moment. But I need to finish these instructions.
Take the spoon and stir the sour cream and Tapatio until you get a nice, smooth blood-orange-red color. If the sauce looks too light in color, then you may not have properly dashed the hot sauce. Add more if need be. Or taste it and see if it tastes okay. If it tastes okay, put it on the table because it’s ready to serve. Dollop it on your taco, and enjoy the rest of your life!
Look, it doesn’t have to be Tapatio, and I hate to sound like a commercial here. But the fact is, I’ve tried this with other hot sauces. I’ve tried it with Cholula, and it was too watery and thin. I’ve tried it with Texas Pete and got the same thin result. I’ve even tried it with Tabasco — not a good match from the start. I’ve even tried it with Sriracha, and while that tasted good, it provided a different layer of complexity that changed the overall taste profile of that particular taco.
For whatever reason Tapatio works the best. I can’t say for sure what science is involved because most of these hot sauces have the same three or four ingredients. But I can say that if you can’t find Tapatio in your grocery store, it’s worth ordering and having it shipped to you. You won’t be disappointed. Of course, you are free to try Baja sauce with any hot sauce you like, but you might not get the same result.
Well, there you have it. As promised, this was a super-simple Baja sauce with only a couple of ingredients. If I were you, I’d try it on fish tacos and then go from there. Serve it up at your next taco soiree. Add it on your resume as a skill you’ve obtained. And definitely include it in your dating app profile. And with any luck, the next taco party you will be hosting will be your taco wedding.
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