When you think of tacos, do you immediately think of hard-shell or soft-shell? Maybe it’s grilled meat or fish? There are thousands of variations on what can go into and on top of tacos, but have you ever heard of taco suadero?
Before you could buy fried crispy yellow tortilla envelopes, Mexican migrants had brought the delicious snack of corn tortilla in America. It comprised of meat wrapped in this corn tortilla which was handmade for more authenticity. Tacos are now enjoyed in Mexico and all over the world by people of all ages, and Suadero is the most common type of meat you will find in it.
Let’s take a look at what makes this classic dish stand out from the crowd, then check out some fun ways to incorporate it into your own kitchen creations!
What Is Suadero Taco
Suadero taco originates from Mexico, where people enjoy it everywhere. Over the years, this delicious snack has traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles to the American states and other countries. While not many know its history, it is enjoyed worldwide.
The word taco originally meant tiny paper pieces encompassing gunpowder and used to gouge mines. It wasn’t until the 1880s when taco was associated with street snacks. Miners gave them the name after the dynamite they used in their line of work. In 1895, the Mexicanism dictionary recognized the word taco officially.
You make tacos by stuffing food inside a tortilla, and you can find the main ingredient in a tortilla, corn in Mexico, where it has grown for thousands of years. Most Mexican taco factories are a local industry that use nixtamal to make flat circles by hand-pressing or milling them.
The tacos we know today, including suadero, resulted from the taco shell’s invention, fried hard. The taco shell is associated with Tex-Mex cuisine, which comprises 20th-century food industrialization.
You prepare suadero from a thin strip of beef meat from between the leg and a cow’s belly. The chefs cook this meat to look like chopped steak, with some pieces having something like connective tissue or sinew. The best part is that these pieces are not awful to eat.
Most recipes are similar to carne asada tacos, with thinly-sliced beef that’s marinated for hours in spices like chili powder, paprika, cumin and salt. As for the suadero meat’s texture, it is smooth instead of feeling like a muscle grain. In Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, suadero, is also known as matambre.
They make it from a thin beef cut between the ribs and skin to make a flank steak. It would be best if you fried suadero before using it as a taco filling. If you have never tasted suadero, it will strike you as a slightly chewy beef cut that is pleasant to eat, similar to hanger steak.
You will love the texture because most meat pieces’ surface is crisped and browned to perfection, making them look like delicious carnitas. If it is your first time trying any kind of taco, and you love beef, you will enjoy it, as it is tasty with a beefy flavor. Other ingredients include chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro and lime wedges for squeezing over your meal.
Suadero Vs Barbacoa
Any tacos lover might have heard about or eaten barbacoa in their lifetime. If you are still yet to try it, here are some details you should know about this delicious snack that you should order at the Mexican restaurants near you.
Barbacoa is a type of preparing meat with origin from the Caribbean. The Taino people first created it after getting inspiration from the word barbecue. In modern Mexico, barbacoa relates to whole sheep or meats cooked slowly over open flames. Traditionally, people prepared suadero in an underground hole which they covered with maguey leaves. However, the interpretation differs as today; the process refers to steaming meat until tender.
In the US, people prepare barbacoa with cattle head parts, including the cheeks. The same happens in northern Mexico, where cooks prepare barbacoa taco from the beef head. In many cases, chefs use goat meat (cabrito) to make this delicious snack. If you visit central Mexico, your barbacoa will be from a lamb, which they prefer, while the Yucatan’s tradition of preparing this snack, pit-style pork (cochinita pibil) as they call it, is from pork.
Later, barbacoa was included in the southwestern United States cuisine through Texas, formerly part of northern Mexico. In time, the name changed to barbecue and other numerous phrases relating to the Tex-Mex cowboy, ranching, and vaquero lifestyle. Some people equate barbacoa to specialty meat, and you can only buy it from some meat markets on holidays or weekends in some South Texas areas and all over Mexico.
If you live in Florida, Barbacoa is a popular snack there, and you can enjoy it any day. The dish was introduced into the Florida market by the many Mexican immigrants who live in that state. Barbacoa is also a popular dish in Honduras.
Suadero is made from a fatty slice of meat, similar to a brisket, which, although among the least tender beef cuts, becomes soft once slowly roasted, smoked, or braised for a fantastic flavor. Suadero is a good type of fatty. You can think of this beef cut as a tasty type of richness left there on purpose and not because the chef was too lazy to remove the fat.
Once cooked, suadero can either be crispy or soft, with both variations being equally tasty without compromising the flavor.
As for barbacoa, it is a smooth beef cut that you cook with fat and later finishes off on the griddle. You can also mix it with tripe or any other offal for more texture and flavor. While its traditional way of preparation is through earthen-pit cooking, today, Texas people prepare barbacoa by braising or steaming parts of a cow’s head. Once cooks properly boil the meat, they shred it and mix it in with its juices.
This is a delicious cut of beef, but it can be hard to find. To make matters worse, when you do come across it, chances are you won’t know what to do with it. It is literally meat-like because that’s exactly what it is—meat! Unlike other cuts of beef brisket, suadero has no fat on top and less fat underneath.
Although most cuts of brisket are used for BBQ or slow-cooking stews and soups, suadero makes an amazing taco filling or side dish all by itself. If you love tacos but aren’t a fan of fatty fillings like al pastor or carnitas, try substituting your next taco filling with some juicy suadero!
Since suadero is a very lean cut of meat, you’ll want to try and get it from an authentic butcher with mexican cuts. When you get it home, remove any excess fat, but leave on a little bit around so that you can sear it as part of your cooking process. Because suadero is cooked long before getting to your table, it requires much less seasoning than other types of meat tacos.
If you are having people over, and you wish to impress them with Mexican dishes, don’t forget to include suadero tacos in your menu. They will love every bit of it and will always want to visit you for more of that Mexican goodness.
Here is how to prepare suadero tacos at home.
You can choose to marinate your suadero meat first. To prepare your marinade, you need:
- 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
- ½ cup of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 4 tbsp. oil
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 lbs. suadero meat
Mix all these ingredients and cover your meat with the marinade. Put your meat in a ziplock bag or any deep container and cover it with a lid together with the marinade. Leave the meat in the marinade in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Afterward, cut your marinated meat into chunks and fry it.
Preparing Suadero Tacos
- 2 tbs. of vegetable oil or beef rendered fat
- 2 lbs. suadero meat (already marinated)
- 12 corn tortillas
- ½ finely diced white onion
- Enough water to cover your meat
- Salt to taste
- Hot salsa (optional)
- Finely chopped cilantro
- Put your beef and its fat into a wok and cover it with water. Put on fire and let it cook for around two hours or until your meat is tender. Alternatively, you can use a Dutch oven.
- If the water is not enough to cook the meat leaving it soft and tender, add more. Since suadero meat is tough, it needs to cook longer to become tender. If you own a pressure cooker, it will save you a lot of time and headache, as your meat will be ready in around 35 minutes. You can also opt for a crockpot, which will cook the beef in six hours while on its low setting.
- Once your meat is tender and the broth has reduced, you will notice the meat starting to brown with the fat. You can choose to use a chopping board to chop the meat or shred it and then put it back in the wok. Let the beef brown to your liking before creating the tacos.
- Once you have cooked your meat as previously directed, you need to warm your tortillas in the form of tacos. Top up your tacos with finely chopped cilantro and onions and season well with salt. You can also have the meat cooked in advance and brown it on your griddle as you warm your tortillas whenever a guest pops in unannounced. That way, you can serve this mouth-watering dish in record time.
- You will find cooks at taco stands slow-cooking the meat in heavy pots or on a sizeable dome-shaped griddle. They preserve the meat juices to keep it moist. You can also use the griddle to warm your tortillas. To cook your suadero meat, use any kind of pot and a griddle or skillet to brown it.
- You can serve this Mexican cuisine delicacy as the main course to your customers or visitors at home. To make your suadero tacos the Mexican ways, prepare some salsa. Here is a recipe to a very classic radish salsa.
Radish Salsa Ingredients
- 1 diced red onion
- 5 diced radishes
- 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
- ½ bunch chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
Toss all the ingredients together to make an irresistible salsa that everyone will love. You can also make any salsa of your choice, but remember to keep it Mexican.
If you have any leftover suadero meat, don’t fret, as you can reuse it late. Your meat can stay in the refrigerator for up to five days. Alternatively, you can put it in an airtight container and freeze it for three to four months. Before serving your frozen meat, thaw it and then heat it in a pan with vegetable or beef fat.
The Best Suadero Tacos in Mexico City
A little bit of research went into finding out where to get tacos de suadero in Mexico City, and after a few hours of reading message boards, blogs, and Google reviews I decided to go to Taquería San Luis located in Av. Oaxaca. In every review I read about San Luis, one thing stuck out: their suadero tacos were amazing.
So how did they taste? Well let me put it like this—I ate two on my first visit there (and two more later the day after!), so they must have been pretty good. Next time you’re in Mexico City, stop by Taquería San Luis (it’s located right across from Rio Escondido) and ask for un par de tacos de suadero.
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