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La Tortilleria's Carne Asada taco
Photograph: Supplied/La Tortilleria

12 recipes of Christmas: How to make La Tortilleria’s spicy carne asada tacos

Mexico City-native Gerardo Lopez knows the secret to the perfect taco – and he’s willing to share it

By Time Out in association with Gaviscon
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Christmas is a time for getting together with friends and family, which comes with the joy of indulging in a hearty meal or having a few drinks. For some, these celebrations can trigger heartburn or indigestion, but thanks to Gaviscon, you can enjoy this delicious time without hesitation. In celebration, we’ve partnered with Gaviscon to bring to you the 12 recipes of Christmas by some of our favourite Aussie chefs and bartenders. See all 12 recipes here.

If you’ve ever made your way down Stubbs Street in Melbourne’s Kensington, It’s unlikely that you missed La Tortilleria’s bright blue and flower-adorned façade. What started as a local secret quickly achieved cult status thanks to its signature handmade maize tortillas. And Mexico City native Gerardo Lopez is the man behind the tortillas.

After more than 20 years living abroad – almost ten of those in Australia – Gerardo was craving a piece of home. “I really missed authentic Mexican street food,” he says. “I started to cook and develop recipes and when I couldn’t find the ingredients I needed, I started to develop those, too.” Another catalyst was meeting Diana Hull, a fellow foodie who had discovered the magic of real Mexican food while studying abroad in Mexico City, who became La Tortilleria's co-founder.

The main thing Gerardo was struggling to find in Australian supermarkets were authentic maize tortillas. “A good, traditional tortilla is made with maize, using the ancient process of nixtamalisation.” This process is rooted in a culinary tradition that is over 3,000 years old, passed down from generation to generation in tortilla making families. “Corn (but not the sweet corn Australians are familiar with) is dried and then steeped overnight in a solution made with naturally occurring limestone. This unlocks all the nutrition inside the kernels, which are then ground down with volcanic stone to create a dough.” 

Naturally, tacos are the jewel in the crown of the La Tortilleria’s menu, which is representative of the way people eat in Gerardo’s hometown. “In Mexico city, the taco is king. It’s a busy, cosmopolitan city where everyone is always in a rush – it’s our fast food. Mexican food is not all melted cheese and corn chips, If you do it right, it’s fresh and it’s healthy.” 

Starting with a perfectly marinated meat and a good quality tortilla is key to the perfect taco, says Gerardo. And the salsa – that’s where the magic happens. “In Mexico, you pick your favourite taco stand based on the salsa. Each taco stand will have ten different salsas and every stand will have ten different salsa from the last.” 

For a festive crowd-pleaser, Gerado recommends starting with a simple, classic beef taco, like the La Torilleria's Carne Asada. “Everyone can customise their toppings based on preference – they can add pico de gallo, guacamole or something a bit spicier like our Spicy Habanero Salsa,” he says. “That’s what the festive season is all about, sharing with people and giving them options.”

La Tortilleria tortillas are currently available in all good independent grocery stores. For your Christmas feast, pair your carne asada tacos and spicy habenero salsa with a hibiscus or mandarin Margarita.  

Little Niche NoshLa Tortilleria founders Diana Hull and Gerardo Lopez | Photograph: Supplied/La Tortilleria

Spicy carne asada tacos

Ingredients

12 La Tortilleria corn tortillas 
1 250ml La Tortilleria Habanero Salsa
1kg beef skirt steak or top side steak (thinly cut)
8 lime wedges
½ brown onion, diced

Guacamole
2 avocados, crushed 
1 jalapeño, sliced
1 red tomato, diced
¼ brown onion, diced
4 steams of coriander, chopped  
1 lime, juiced 
Salt to taste   

Marinade
100ml water 50ml apple cider vinegar
150g fresh pineapple
1 jalapeño chilli
4 garlic cloves
3 coriander stems with leaves
3 fresh oregano stems with leaves
1 tsp whole black pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp cooking oil
1 tbsp cooking salt

Gaviscon – if you suffer from heartburn or indigestion and want to eat and drink with confidence during the holidays!    

Method

  1. Blend all the marinade ingredients together in a blender. Place the beef into the marinade and ensure it is well coated. Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least two hours. 
  2. On a hot grill or frypan, cook the steaks to your liking. Remove from the heat to let them rest for about five minutes before slicing thinly against the grain. Season to taste. 
  3. On a frypan, add some oil and lightly fry the diced onion for a few minutes.
  4. Get a dry frypan and make sure it is very hot. Heat your tortillas on each side until soft and floppy, wrapping them in a tea towel as you go to stay warm.
  5. Assemble your taco by placing the beef onto the warm tortilla, topping with guacamole and La Tortilleria Habanero Salsa, and finishing with a lime wedge. 

Heartburn an issue? Pick up Gaviscon from your local grocery store or pharmacy. Make it a Christmas to remember and win a $2,000 Visa Gift Card from Gaviscon to spend on summer entertaining – head to www.gaviscon.com.au/win to enter.

Christmas is a time for feasting, and acid reflux is like that weird uncle you always end up next to at the barbie – an unwelcome guest to say the least. Luckily, Gaviscon has your back (or rather your oesophagus). This medicine may not be right for you. Read the label before purchase. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.

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