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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!