Let’s taco ‘bout it

Every day is a good day to make these full-flavored Latin favorites. 

By Maddie Bane

In a country that consumes more than 4.5 billion a year, it’s fair to say we Americans have come to love our tacos. Said to be created sometime between 1,000 and 500 B.C., they were initially used as more of an edible spoon, rather than a component of the meal itself. After many years, though, tacos have become an ever-evolving dish, popular across the globe. With an endless amount of customizations, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like them. Next time you find yourself craving a good taco, try recreating one of these Latin classics.

Chicken feed 

“Tinga” refers to stew that is made of tomatoes, onion, garlic, smoky chipotle, oregano and thyme. If you’re lucky enough to find it, piloncillo sugar is the secret sweet ingredient. Tinga tacos originated in the city of Puebla, Mexico. 

Tinga Tacos


1 pound chicken, shredded and cooked

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 chipotle chiles

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

3/4-cup chicken stock

2 tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Corn or flour tortillas

Red onion, sliced


Directions [1] To make the sauce, blend minced garlic, chipotle chiles, tomatoes, honey, chicken stock, cumin, salt and pepper until smooth. Add sauce and chicken into a slow cooker, tossing the chicken to cover. [2] Cook on low for four hours. [3] Assemble taco with desired amount of meat, onion and guacamole. 

Hot spots for honey

Farmers Market of Bluffton
Find local honey from noon-5 p.m. each Thursday at the Farmers Market of Bluffton. Wild Light Honey owner Alec Bruns is a second-generation beekeeper who brings Ohoopee Gold and City Honey varieties from his Savannah hives to Bluffton and other local markets. 

Nantucket’s Meat & Fish Market of Hilton Head
Find local wildflower honey from Readee’s Bees at this new meat and fish market, located at Tanger Outlets in Bluffton. The honey comes from hives near the Savannah Wildlife Refuge and its 2,000 acres of indigenous Georgia plants. 

Pleased to meat you 

Spanish for “barbecue,” barbacoa traditionally referred to lamb or goat. In Mexico, the meat would be roasted for several hours in a pit that was topped with maguey leaves, which were used to wrap the barbacoa. An underground oven was used to cook the barbacoa. 

Barbacoa Tacos


3 pounds roast beef, cut into large chunks

4 teaspoons garlic, minced

4 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons brown sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 teaspoon adobo sauce (recipe right) 

1/4 cup lime juice

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Corn or flour tortillas

Directions [1] In a slow cooker, add all ingredients except white onion and cilantro. Cook for six hours or until meat shreds easily. [2] Shred meat and add back into slow cooker with broth. [3] Assemble tacos with desired amount of meat and toppings. 

Adobo sauce


1/2 cup ancho chili powder

1 1/4 cups water

8 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions [1] Boil water in a saucepan, then pour over chili powder in a blender. Mix and let cool. [2] Microwave garlic in water for 1 minute, drain, then add to blender along with cinnamon, pepper, cumin, oregano, vinegar and salt. Mix until smooth. [3] Scoop the sauce into a jar and refrigerate for up to two months.

Shrimply the best

Battered and fried or grilled, the best way to eat seafood is on a taco. Back in the early 1900s in Sinaloa, Mexico, shrimp tacos were created as a surprise for Governor Francisco Labastida Ochoa. He would constantly tell his friends how much he loved his wife’s shrimp tacos.

Shrimp Tacos


1 pound white shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Corn tortillas

Lettuce, sliced

Sour cream

Lemon slices

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions [1] In a pan over medium to high heat, add olive oil and peeled shrimp. Season with onion powder, smoked paprika and chili powder. [2] Once cooked, assemble taco with shrimp and desired amount of lettuce, sour cream, and cilantro. Garnish with lemon slices and cilantro.

Find fresh shrimp

Purchase fresh white shrimp, in season September through December, at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks. The iconic seafood restaurant has a special agreement with the fishermen who use their dock, getting first pick of their catch when they return. For the final 24 to 36 hours of their expeditions, they fish exclusively for Hudson’s.

Raise the steaks 

“Carne asada” is a Latin American term that refers to the style of grilled meats and actually translates directly to “grilled meat.” It’s said to be the first type of taco, originally made with thin slices of meat, guacamole, chili peppers and lime. 

Carne Asada Tacos


1 1/2 pounds flank steak

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lime, juiced

1 orange, juiced

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

Corn tortillas

1/2 cup white onion, chopped

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions [1] Create a marinade with the garlic, lime juice, orange juice, diced jalapeño, olive oil, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. [2] Marinate the steak with the mixture in a ziplock bag for two to four hours in the refrigerator. [3] Cook the steak on the stovetop. Once done, cut into thin strips. [4] Assemble taco with the steak and desired amount of toppings.

Hot spots for corn tortillas

La Poblanita Fresh Market This Latino grocery store, located at 117 Mathews Drive on Hilton Head Island, makes and sells amazing warm corn tortillas, starting at 9 a.m. each day. It also has Bluffton and Ridgeland locations. 

Tienda Y Tortilleria San Jose This Mexican restaurant and grocery store, located at 120 Arrow Road on Hilton Head Island, makes and sells wonderful corn tortillas for its customers, along with other grocery stores and restaurants in the area. 

How sweet it is

After a successful release of her first cookbook, Hilton Head Island resident Angela Rummans is releasing a second volume of Angela’s Plant-Based Kitchen this fall. The new cookbook will include recipes such as raspberry toaster pastries, breakfast burrito bowls, sweet chili buffalo meatballs and more. Here is her out-of-this-world recipe for sweet and smokey quinoa tacos with potatoes and grilled pineapple. Find more at tangelainc.com.

Angela’s Plant-Based Kitchen:

Sweet and Smokey Quinoa Tacos with Potatoes and Grilled Pineapple

Ingredients (Makes 8-10 tacos)

4 cups fingerling potatoes, chopped small

1/4 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 tablespoon agave nectar

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (tri-color)

4-5 pineapple rings

8-10 small corn tortillas

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

3/4 cup white onion, diced small

1/3 cup roasted piquillo peppers, sliced (canned)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped or whole leaves

1 lime, cut into segments

Directions [1] Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a medium-sized baking sheet with aluminum foil. Lightly mist with cooking spray. [2] In a small bowl, combine olive oil, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, agave nectar and garlic salt. Stir well until combined. [3] Place chopped fingerling pieces in a medium mixing bowl, drizzle with half of the seasoned olive oil. Reserve the other half. Toss potatoes to coat and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. [4] Bake fingerlings at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. [5] In a small bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and the reserved seasoned olive oil. Mix well and set aside. [6] In a cast iron grill skillet over high heat, lightly mist with cooking spray. Grill pineapple rings for 2 minutes each side, or until nice grill marks appear. [7] Grill tortillas 30 seconds on each side or until grill marks appear. Set aside to build tacos. [8] Chop pineapple rings into small pieces to top tacos. Set aside. [9] Build tacos. Top each grilled tortilla with 1 heaping tablespoon of spiced quinoa, top with fingerling potato pieces, shredded red cabbage, diced white onion, piquillo pepper slices, grilled pineapple pieces and cilantro. [10] Serve hot. Squeeze on a little fresh lime before diving in!

The Good Shepherd

Tacos al pastor were originally known as tacos arabes. The meat was cooked on an upright, vertical grill. Mexican shepherds started using this method, and that’s when the name changed to al pastor, meaning “shepherd style.” Tacos al pastor were created in Puebla, Mexico, by Lebanese immigrants who wanted to introduce the region to classic shawarma. 

Tacos Al Pastor


1 pound chicken thighs

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

Salt, to taste

1/2 cup white onion, sliced

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Corn tortillas

Directions [1] Make the al pastor marinade for the chicken by combining all ingredients except the onion and cilantro into a blender. Blend until combined. [2] Marinate the chicken for at least six hours in the refrigerator. [3] Bake the chicken at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until baked all the way through. Cut chicken into small pieces and broil for five minutes, flipping halfway through. [4] Place the desired amount of chicken and toppings onto tortilla. 

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