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PortWatch

May 29, 2013

Top chefs offer up fresh takes on taco night

(Continued)

STEAK HOUSE TACOS

Season a flat-iron steak with salt and pepper, then sear it on the grill, suggests Washington, D.C., chef Spike Mendelsohn, who plans to open a steak frites restaurant called Bearnaise this summer. Wrap thin slices of the steak and pickled red onions inside a soft corn taco and serve with warm bearnaise sauce for dipping. “I love the idea of eating a steak without sharpening my knives,” Mendelsohn said via email.

INDIAN-INSPIRED TACOS, TWO WAYS

Spices like cumin, coriander and chilies are natural allies in both Mexican and Indian cuisine, says Ali Loukzada, chef at New York’s Cafe Serai. So what could be more obvious than a chicken tikka taco drizzled with mint chutney? A palm’s worth of shredded cabbage or radish adds crunch.

“When you’re adapting Indian flavors to a Mexican dish, the original ingredients and tastes are still present,” Loukzada said via email. “It’s more of an Indian tweak.”

To go completely native, ditch the taco shell for the crisp lentil-and-rice crepe called dosa. “I Indianize our taco fillings at home all the time,” Rohini Dey, owner of Vermillion restaurant in New York and Chicago, writes in an email. At her restaurants, Dey offers a dosa-taco bar, where Latin fillings such as anchovies, avocado, chorizo and Michoacan beef are offered alongside the spiced potato stuffing traditionally used in dosa.

Chutneys of mint, coconut and tamarind — typical Mexican, as well as Indian, flavors — line the toppings bar. “By confining the chili to the chutneys instead of the filling, it’s easy for the family to tailor to each person’s spice tolerance,” Dey writes.

PIG-IN-A-TACO

Stick a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker until it practically melts, suggests Marie Simmons, author of the new cookbook “Taste of Honey.” Shred the meat, then toss it with a sweet-spicy barbecue sauce made by simmering honey, chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, cumin, chili powder, garlic and a swig of cider vinegar for about 10 minutes, or until thick.

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