Inside: Prepare these delicious tacos de canasta, or basket tacos, for a picnic or to eat at home. They are delicious, filling, and authentic Mexican food.
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Tacos de Canasta, which literally means “basket tacos”, is an authentic Mexican street food that you will find throughout Mexico. Unlike other street foods like esquites, chicharrones, and fruit which are made to order, tacos de canasta are a complete meal.
Throughout Mexico you may see these tacos called by different names. For example, in some places they are called “tacos al vapor”, tacos sudados, and just street tacos.
What are Tacos de Canasta and how do you make them?
Tacos de canasta get their name because they are often sold in the streets of Mexico in baskets. The method of cooking them includes leaving them in a large lined basket after cooking them, which allows the steam to finish the cooking process.
You will start by lining the inside of the basket (you can use a large pot or even a box if you prefer) with a layer of aluminum foil to help keep in the heat. Then, you will continue lining the basket with a large towel. After adding the towel, you will add a large plastic bag (one from the store or even just a large clean trash bag). You then add a layer of butcher paper where you will place the already prepared tacos and the oil based salsa. You can then continue adding additional layers of butcher paper and tacos before closing the bag and covering with the towel and aluminum paper.
The tacos themselves are made by adding the filling to the tortilla and folding over like a normal taco.
This method allows the tacos to continue cooking with the steam and that is where some of the othe names come from. The purpose of this method is to ensure that the tacos, which are made in advance, are still hot when people buy them in the streets.
What Goes Inside Tacos De Canasta
You can include many different types of fillings in tacos de canasta, including chicharron, chorizo and potatoes, and even just beans. They are all delicious and they are accompanied by a salsa roja or salsa verde. The steam is created by adding a hot oil based salsa on top of the tacos prior to covering them up. That salsa makes them even more delicious!
Have any of you tried these tacos? Let me know in the comments!
Tacos de Canasta
- 20 corn tortillas
- 1 cup salsa verde
- 1 large onion sliced
For the Filling
- 3 large potatoes
- 1 lb chorizo
- 1/4 white onion diced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
For the Oil-Based Salsa
- 1 cup canola oil
- 2 guajillo peppers de-seeded
- 1/4 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 bay leaves
For the Filling
- Boil the potatoes with salt until they are soft and mash with butter and milk or however you prefer.
- Cook the chorizo over medium heat in a frying pan and once cooked, add the mashed potatoes, the onions, the garlic and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 additional minutes. Set aside.
For the Oil Based Salsa
- Start by roasting the onion, garlic, and peppers until browned.
- Add the oil and the bay leaves and fry everything.
- Once fried, blend everything in a blender and strain the mixture.
- Add back to the frying pan so that it the salsa is hot again.
To Form The Tacos
- Heat the tortillas and add a small amount of the filling to each, folding the tortilla in half in the form of a taco.
- Place the tacos in a row and top with the onion slices and then add butcher paper on top and form additional layers.
- Once you have formed all of the layers, add the oil based salsa and then seal the bag and cover the basket. Let rest for one hour before serving.
For the Basket
- In a basket or a large pot cover the inside with aluminum paper, then add a large towel.
- Next, add a plastic bag that is big enough for the basket or pot that you are using.
- Finally, add the first layer of butcher paper to absorb some of the salsa. You will add a new layer of butcher paper on top of each layer of tacos and then you will seal the bag and cover with the remaining part of the towel until ready to serve.
Wednesday 12th of August 2020
What can be used instead of butcher paper?
Jorge E Chelouet
Thursday 20th of May 2021
@Eugenia, parchment paper or wax but butcher probably works best
Friday 26th of July 2019
Question? Why all the layers of butcher paper ? In Taco chronicles on Netflix they just pile hundreds of Tacos on top of each other, no layers of paper. Why do you suggest doing so? Also why seed the guajillo chillies? Just to make it less spicy ?
Tuesday 30th of July 2019
Thanks for your comments and questions! I was taught to include multiple layers of butcher paper for a few reasons. First, if you are making different varieties it can be a good way to separate them and remember which layer has which flavors. Another reason is because if you pile too many on top of each other, they can become mushy, so I find having multiple layers keeps the quality higher. Finally, at least when selling these on the street, it is good to have multiple layers to keep the lower layers hot while you are selling or serving the ones in the top layers.
For the guajillo chiles, yes, it is to reduce the heat. It can get pretty spicy if you keep them in, but I guess that is a matter of preference.
Let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks! Charbel
Friday 26th of July 2019
Charbel, this looks to be an excellent set of instructions for preparing and serving tacos. However, and this is extremely important: You need to remove the recommendation to use a trash bag for the steaming step. Trash bags are not made from food grade plastic bag material. They may, especially when hot, leach toxic chemicals into the food. They would not have to be in contact with the food to do so, since the volatile agents in the plastic will vaporize when heated.
Please, please not only remove the recommendation, but issue a correction so that people will be aware. After all, no one should risk cancer to enjoy the good food that you promote.