Bobby Flay may have taken top honors at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Burger Bash this past weekend, but it was tacos — another category he's well versed in — that he tackled at a cooking demo on Sunday. His passion for the subject quickly became apparent as he made spicy jerk chicken tacos topped with red cabbage slaw and habañero hot sauce as well as an enticing stone crab and orange mojo stunner. He even proclaimed them a perfect food — "you can make anything a taco," he said — later admitting that they're a food he consistently craves, especially "late at night [after he's] had a few cocktails with friends." Here are a few tips and tricks the chef had to impart:
- Prioritize textural contrast: Both of Flay's tacos had a crunchy element: a red cabbage slaw for the jerk chicken and a deep-fried blue corn tortilla for the stone crab. He emphasized waiting until the last minute to dress the slaw so that it would stay crisp.
- Overseason taco fillings. "Otherwise, it's going to be fighting through the tortilla," he said. A bland tortilla can overpower the other components, making for an uninteresting bite.
Keep reading for two more taco tips.
- Flavor taco meat with a spice rub rather than a marinade. Because a spice rub is cooked onto a taco filling, "the flavor is direct," he maintains. Marinades, on the other hand, can fail to deliver if they aren't given enough time to seep in and flavor the meat.
- Steam soft tacos before assembly to make them pliable and easier to eat. The easiest way to do this? Microwave the tortillas with a dampened paper towel until they've softened slightly.