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If you’re anything like me and my family, you could eat tacos for pretty much every meal. Breakfast tacos, tacos for lunch, tacos at dinner time, and, yup, you guessed it, even tacos for dessert (Choco-Tacos were my FAVORITE growing up…I think they’ve changed the way they make them because now they’re pretty much inedible. Either that or I had a bad batch). We love authentic Mexican tacos, as well as Tex Mex, but every once and a while we need to change it up. I’m under the impression that pretty much everything is better wrapped in a tortilla and some of the best crossovers involve Asian food. That’s why tonight’s dish is Chinese Chicken Tacos.

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When Maddox was first eating solid foods, quesadillas and tacos were among his favorite. Even though he would take bites out of the middle instead of the end, he couldn’t get enough of them, particularly quesadillas. Well, something happened in the past 9 months or so and Maddox has become an incredibly picky eater. We’re always looking for recipes that he will eat, particularly with protein since he barely eats meat. Enter Chinese Chicken Tacos. Maddox has a little bit of a sweet tooth, so having a sweet and savory protein gives us a better chance for him to chow down. The brown sugar and Chinese 5-spice in the recipe helps achieve this goal and make it more kid friendly.

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Speaking of Chinese 5-spice, what exactly is it? Traditionally, it is a blend of ground star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. I picked mine up at a local oriental market, but you can likely find it at the grocery store you usually shop at. While you’re at the oriental market, don’t forget to pick up the ginger, soy sauce, lime, hot peppers, scallions, mint, cilantro, and sesame oil. The quality is better, the selection is more diverse, and you can usually save a few dollars. You can also check out your local farmer’s market for fresh ingredients. We’re lucky enough to have Detwiler’s Market here in Sarasota. They have fantastic fresh meat, fish, and produce, usually at a fraction of the price of the big box grocery stores.

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If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed your family, this is it. By going to my local oriental and farmer’s markets, I managed to put together this dinner for less than $20. And let me tell you: You get a big bang for your buck. You can feed four hungry adults, or three adults and two kids. Five meals for under $20 is less than you could get at fast food. There’s no reason you can’t make restaurant quality food on a ramen budget. These tacos are among the best I’ve ever made, getting Kiersten’s stamp of approval.

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My favorite part about cooking is making little changes in existing recipes that best suit you and your family’s tastes. For instance, most taco recipes call for jalapeños or other hot peppers. Kiersten happens to be allergic to jalapeños and spicy food isn’t always the best when cooking for kids, so I like to substitute the poblano pepper. It’s got nice, subtle spice that enhances the dish, but doesn’t set your mouth on fire. If you’re looking for a little more heat, keep the seeds and membrane (the white insides). That’s where the capsaicin is largely located in peppers. However, if you like spice like I do and are not cooking for kids, you can always bump up the heat with habaneros or, to keep with the Asian theme here, some Thai chili peppers. Alternatively, to keep it kid friendly, you can stick with the poblanos and add Sriracha to taste as you assemble your tacos. You can also swap out the protein for whatever suits your fancy. I happened to use ground chicken, but ground turkey, pork, beef, bison, or even diced tofu or portobello mushrooms will all do the trick. Adapt to what suits you best.

Print Recipe
Chinese Chicken Tacos
Chinese chicken tacos combines two of my favorite cuisines: Chinese and Mexican. This recipe utilizes Chinese 5-Spice dusted chicken piled into a corn tortilla.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pesto
Taco Filling
For Assembly:
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Chinese, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pesto
Taco Filling
For Assembly:
Instructions
Pesto
  1. Combine the mint and cilantro into a food processor. While it whirs away, slowly add the sesame and olive oils. Once the consistency is uniform and smoothed out, add the lime juice and salt. Run the food processor one more time to mix together.
Taco Filling
  1. In a large sauté pan, brown the ground chicken for about 5-7 minutes, breaking up the meat along the way. Drain fat from the pan if needed. Add 1 tablespoon of Chinese 5-spice and mix with the ground chicken. Give it a taste. If you feel like you need more Chinese 5-spice, add it. If not, move on to the next step. Next, add the garlic, ginger, poblano (or whatever pepper you decide to use), brown sugar, peanuts, soy sauce, and lime juice. Stir together and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally, add the red pepper and stir to combine. I like my peppers a little soft, so I cook for an extra minute or two.
Assembly
  1. Lastly, heat up those tortillas. For best results, heat over open flame for a couple seconds on each side until they get a little char. Otherwise, you can certainly heat up in a pan (about 30 seconds on each side on high heat) or heat in the microwave for 15 seconds. For the microwave, make sure you have the tortillas sandwiched between a couple of wet paper towels. It really helps with the pliability and to keep the tortillas from drying out.
  2. Are you salivating yet? I usually have to take a couple of bites before assembly because I’m impatient. Anywho, now comes the best part. Take one or two of your hot corn tortillas (Two helps contain tortilla rippage. Corn tortillas can break easily, although heating them should help) and spoon the filling in the middle of the shell. Top with a few dollops of the pesto, any extra mint leaves, and thin crispy wontons. Garnish with a lime wedge. For serving, I love the taste of fresh lime juice on really any taco and, if you need a little kick, add some Sriracha. ENJOY!
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Bev Cooks.

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Hopefully your kids will like it as much as mine! You can always serve with rice (might I suggest fried rice to go with the Chinese theme) and a salad. That being said, tacos are always delicious on their own. Happy National Taco Day (and Taco Tuesday)!

Like this recipe? Make some changes? Let me know what you think about it and how you made it your own. #DishingDaddyhood on social media!