My Suegra (mom-in-law) had a birthday earlier this month, so Dani and I teamed up to throw her a small party in our apartment. Our usual entertaining division of labor was back in full force this time–she handled the decorations so I could focus on the food. Once her little sister, the baking prodigy, agreed to make the cake, we were ready to go.
I was dragging my feet all week trying to figure out what to cook–I had to eliminate a few ideas because of dietary restrictions, then others because they felt “boring”. I decided to just start chopping up some stuff, and let it come to me in the moment. There’s a lot going on in this new year already, so it was pretty easy to tap into some of the “stress cooking” creativity on the fly. It worked–I decided to make something I’ve never tried before, simply because it made sense in my head. And thus, these “taco bites” were born.
I cut a few corn tortillas in half, and formed them into one of Dani’s muffin pans, brushed them with oil, and salt, then baked them on low heat for a few minutes to dry them out. Once cooled, I knew they would hold their shape better, and fry more evenly.
You want the tortilla to be tough, but not hard–save that for the final step: frying. Fry these in hot oil for about one minute until they are fully golden brown, and crispy, drain with paper towels, and season with salt, paprika, and lime juice. I’d suggest serving them warm.
Dani pointed out that these looked like flowers, a subtle reference to her mom’s love of gardening. I hadn’t thought of that, but hey, I’ll take some extra bonus points when I can get them.
I stir fried the chicken in some curry paste I had in the fridge, then simmered it in coconut milk to help control the heat–I’ve been slowly getting Dani used to Nigerian spice levels, but I know her side of the family isn’t there yet! As such, I made a sauce to tie the dish back to something familiar: chimichurri. It’s a good master sauce/marinade that I’ve been able to spice in a few different ways to fit whatever I’m making.
These turned out really well considering how quickly the idea hit me, and I’m glad to report that the party was also a success. Here’s to your next event!
4 Chicken Breasts, cubed
2 Shallots, minced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 Birdseye Chili, minced
1 Bell Pepper, minced
2 Limes, juice and zest
1 Tsp Ginger, minced
1/2 Cup Green Onions, chopped
1/2 Cup Curry Leaves
3 Cups Parsley, chopped
2 Tbs Oregano, chopped
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
Corn Tortillas, cut in half
1 Tbs Paprika
1 Tbs Cumin
1/2 Tbs Coriander
1/2 Tbs Turmeric
1/2 Tbs Chili Powder
1/2 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
Vegetable Oil as needed
Salt & Pepper to Taste
- Combine shallots, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, chilies, lime juice/zest, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and spices in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth paste forms. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed. Transfer to a jar, top with a thin layer of oil, and store in the the fridge–it should remain fresh for several weeks.
- Blend parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic, coriander, lime juice, and a small amount of oil into a thin sauce, then transfer to a separate container, and store.
- Season chicken cubes with salt, pepper, and paprika, then sear in a hot wok or pan with a small amount of oil. Transfer to a heat-safe dish when fully cooked.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then stir in one tablespoon of curry paste into the wok, and deglaze with a wooden spoon until fragrant.
- Return chicken to the wok once the past begins to change colors, and coat the chicken evenly. Add coconut milk, and any remaining lime juice, and simmer until reduced by half.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, then fold tortillas into a muffin pan as described above. brush with salt and oil, then bake until they hold their shape. Transfer to a heat-safe dish, and keep warm.
- Heat vegetable oil in a separate pot, then fry the shells quickly until golden. Transfer to a rack to drain excess oil, then brush with lime zest, salt, and chili powder.
- Serve cups with chicken, and the chimichurri sauce, and any desired toppings.