Here at Plated, Cinco de Mayo is one of our favorite holidays (as if we needed an excuse to enjoy more Mexican food). When it comes to scooping a tortilla chip through our best guacamole or sipping a refreshing margarita, we’ve got you covered. Of course, no Cinco de Mayo fest would be complete without tacos. Our love for the filled tortilla is going nowhere—these beloved fish tacos are proof enough. In fact, this year, we’re going beyond Mexican flavors and giving all kinds of trendy cuisines the taco treatment, from Korean to Southern BBQ. Turns out, when you’ve got a warm tortilla as your canvas, the possibilities are endless.
We’re taking a familiar blueprint—corn tortilla, saucy shredded chicken, and crunchy lettuce—and adding a Southeast Asian spin. Roasted chicken thighs are shredded and tossed in a sticky sauce with soy sauce, ginger, and Thai sweet chili sauce, then layered with crisp Boston lettuce and toasted peanuts. The pickled shallots add an acidic pop we love.
Korean barbecue will always be a favorite in our Test Kitchen (after all, our offices are just a few blocks from NYC’s Koreatown!). These tacos are topped with gochujang-marinated steak, bean sprouts, and kimchi for crunch and tingly heat. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
A generous spice rub and a high heat sear creates a fantastic crust on these cod fillets. The technique actually began in New Orleans, where this type of rub is used on everything from shrimp to chicken. To cool things down, we drizzle the tacos with a lime and mayo crema and top with diced avocado.
BBQ chicken tacos
Speaking of barbecue, have you ever noticed that saucy pulled chicken and crunchy slaw is ideal for tacos? Instead of a mayo-based slaw, we’re keeping things a bit lighter with a Dijon and cider vinaigrette, and are adding tart Granny Smith apple for extra crunch. Use whatever barbecue sauce you like (here are a few you can try).
8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
1/2 cup barbecue sauce, such as Stubbs
2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup thinly sliced Granny Smith apple
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. sugar
1. Preheat oven to 450°. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Rub all over with 1 tablespoon olive oil, .5 teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired, then arrange skin-side up. Roast until chicken is cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes.
2. After 15 minutes of chicken roasting, stack tortillas, wrap in foil, and place in oven (with chicken) to warm through, 5—10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together cider vinegar, mustard, sugar, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cabbage, apple, and parsley to bowl with dressing and toss to combine. Set aside until chicken is done.
3. Once chicken is roasted, let cool about 5 minutes, then thinly slice, discarding bones and skin. Place chicken in a bowl. Heat barbecue sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until just warmed through, 1-2 minutes. Add barbecue sauce to chicken and toss to coat. Divide tortillas among serving plates and layer with barbecue chicken and slaw. Dig in!
Peanut tofu tacos
This taco takes its inspiration from the Vietnamese banh mi, with pickled vegetables, fresh herbs, and peanuts for extra crunch. If you don’t think you’re a tofu fan, you’ll want to try this recipe—once the tofu gets pressed to release extra liquid and seared, it gets deliciously crisp and golden. The creamy peanut sauce gets a kick from Sriracha, bringing everything together.
14 oz. extra-firm tofu
12 ounces carrots
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons water
11/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons light coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha
1. Cut tofu lengthwise into 1-inch thick planks. Place on a paper towel–lined plate. Cover with additional paper towels and a heavy pan to press out as much excess water as possible. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Rinse all produce. Halve carrots lengthwise; cut lengthwise into thin slices, then cut lengthwise again into thin matchsticks. Halve bell pepper lengthwise, discarding seeds and stem; cut lengthwise into thin slices. Pick cilantro leaves, discarding stems. Roughly chop peanuts.
3. Place vinegar, water, and granulated sugar in a small pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, add carrots and bell pepper, then cover and let stand 15 minutes.
4. Season tofu all over with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper as desired. Heat a large nonstick skillet with 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add tofu and cook until lightly browned, 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, and Sriracha until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stack tortillas and wrap in a slightly damp paper towel, then microwave for about 1 minute until warmed through.
6. Drain pickled carrots and bell pepper, discarding pickling liquid. Cut seared tofu into 1-inch pieces. Divide tortillas among serving plates, then layer with pickled carrots and bell pepper, tofu, cilantro, and peanuts. Drizzle over peanut sauce, and dig in!
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